CAF SG, El Amrani quits
> Robson Sharuko
HARARE – CAF secretary-general Hicham El Amrani’s resignation, in the wake of the tsunami triggered by Southern African football leaders, means that the world’s four most powerful football leaders have been swept away in a dramatic 20 months that have changed the face of the game’s leadership around the globe.
The 37-year-old Moroccan administrator tendered his resignation on Sunday, a week after his former boss Issa Hayatou – whom he had backed in elections for the CAF presidency – fell by the wayside after being blown away by challenger Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar whose candidature was supported by COSAFA leaders.
Amrani, who joined CAF in 2009 after having worked for the Asian Football Confederation as its Director of Competitions, fought in Hayatou’s corner in the battle for the CAF presidency and had a spectacular fallout with ZIFA boss Philip Chiyangwa, including leading the boardroom campaign to sanction the Harare businessman.
And, when Hayatou was comprehensively defeated by 14 votes to bring an end to the Cameroonian strongman’s 29-year rule of African football, Amrani was left exposed – especially given the way he had dabbled in the politics related to the elections – leaving him with very little option but to walk away from his job.
“It is with great regret that I hereby inform you that I am leaving today my position of CAF Secretary General, after 8 years spent within the Confederation of African Football,” Amrani said in a statement sent to CAF’s member associations.
“I would like here to thank CAF, FIFA, the Confederations, the National Associations, the commercial partners, and the entire African football family for the extraordinary opportunity that allowed me to contribute to the development of African Football
“These last eight years have been wonderful, enriching, and will provided with life-lasting memories. CAF will always remain part of my heart, and African football will always be very dear to me.
“I would like to thank very much as well the outgoing President M. Hayatou and his Executive Committee for the support and the confidence given, and I would like to thank infinitely the entire CAF administration. Without my colleagues, no project or work would have seen the day. I am proud of them, and they are and will always be my second family.
“I would like to take this opportunity to wish CAF President M. Ahmad as well as the new Executive Committee members the best of success for the future, with the hope that African football will keep reaching new heights.
“I will be happy to maintain contact with all of you.”
Amrani’s departure means that the world’s four most powerful football leaders have all fallen by the wayside in the past 20 months.
While Hayatou, failed in his bid to extend his 29-year rule by another four years after suffering a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Ahmad, former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter and the world football governing body’s secretary-general Jerome Valcke were brought down by the corruption scandal that also claimed the scalps of a dozen other football leaders around the world.
Blatter and Valcke were the two most powerful football leaders in the world while Hayatou, who acted as the FIFA president in the wake of the Swiss strongman’s embarrassing departure in June two years ago after 17 years of leading world football, was the third most powerful man in the game by virtue of leading the biggest confederation.
Amrani had been secretary-general of FIFA’s biggest confederation for eight years after succeeding Mustapha Fahmy of Egypt.
“He was Hayatou’s right hand man and, given that he clearly took a position during the elections, clearly siding with Issa and leading a CAF office that was hostile to Ahmad, it was just natural that Amrani had to also go after the events in Ethiopia where Ahmad won the election,” one of those who fought in the corner of the Madagascar football boss told The Southern Times.
“The heat was on and Hicham created it for himself by taking sides when, as an officer at CAF, he should just remained impartial to show he was a professional who could work with anyone who would win the election.
“His language, especially in the way he dealt with Phillip (ZIFA boss Chiyangwa) to try and stop African football leaders from meeting in Harare, which is now celebrated as a turning point in the fight to remove Issa, was not only full of threats but clearly showed he had lost the principles of democracy and in the new set-up it was going to be very difficult for him to continue executing his duties.
“It’s a new order now in world football because the entire old leadership, be it at CAF or FIFA, has been pushed out and you have younger and ambitious leaders at the helm right now and these are quite interesting times because, already, we have seen the grants from FIFA to the national associations being increased since Gianni Infantino took over as FIFA boss last year and right now the African football nations believe they can have bigger injections, in terms of the financial help we get from CAF, under Ahmad.”
Blatter was banned for six years after he was found guilty of authorising a huge questionable payment to former UEFA president Michel Platini with the Swiss strongman acknowledging he had lost the support of the global football family to remain as their leader.
“I have been reflecting deeply about my presidency and about the 40 years in which my life has been inextricably bound to FIFA and the great sport of football,” Blatter said in his resignation statement.
“While I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football – the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at FIFA.
“Therefore, I have decided to lay down my mandate.”
Valcke was also banned for 10 years for his part in the corruption scandal.