Kalusha, Chiyangwa and Jordaan get influential roles at CAF
By Robson Sharuko
HARARE – The leaders of a revolution that started in South Africa’s Sun City resort and gained strength in Harare during February to sweep away long-serving CAF president Issa Hayatou from his post, have now consolidated their control of the game by taking over influential positions in the leadership of football on the continent.
Ghanaian and Nigerian football leaders – Kwesi Nyantakyi and Amaju Pinnick – key members of that revolution were, this week, handed key portfoliosin the new CAF leadership under president Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar. The two broke ranks with their West African colleagues to fight in the corner of those battling to topple Hayatou.
West African football leaders had, traditionally, backed Hayatou, the Cameroonian strongman who ruled the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for 29 years and, in return, he repaid them by ensuring countries from that part of the continent dominate the hosting of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The next three AFCON tournaments are set to be hosted by West African countries with Cameroon set to stage the 2019 finals, Cote d’Ivoire in line to host it in 2021 while Guinea was given the rights to host the 2023 editions.
Six of the last 10 AFCON’s, since the turn of the millennium, have been held in West Africa with only two held in southern Africa – in South Africa in 2013 and in Angola in 2010. In North Africa – Egypt hosted it in 2006 and Tunisia in 2004.
The Council of Southern Africa Football Associations’ leadership under Zimbabwe businessman Philip Chiyangwa has already petitioned Ahmad asking him to review the arrangement that will see the next three AFCON finals being held in West Africa given the dominance of the region in hosting this tournament since the turn of the millennium.
Chiyangwa, the president of Zimbabwe Football association, who also played a leading role in toppling Hayatou as Ahmad’s campaign manager, wants countries like Zambia – which hosted the most successful CAF Under-20 tournament in recent memory – Zimbabwe, which had her rights to host the 200 AFCON finals controversially withdrawn by Hayatou, to be given a chance to host the tournament.
He now has an influential voice after being named the deputy president of the CAF’s AFCON Committee which determines who hosts the continent’s football tournaments, including the Nations Cup finals.
Chiyangwa was handed that influential role at CAF’s first executive committee meeting chaired by Ahmad in Manama, Bahrain, on Monday and will assist the committee’s boss, Nigerian Football Federation boss Pinnick, who was another key player in the ousting of Hayatou.
Pinnick attended Chiyangwa’s birthday bash in Harare in February, whose powerful guests also included FIFA president Gianni Infantino. Chiyangwa’s birthday party was considered the setting for the continental thrust to oust Hayatou who had tried, in vain, to stop football leaders from coming to Zimbabwe’s capital to attend the bash.
Infantino and FIFA general secretary, Fatma Samoura, who also attended the Chiyangwa birthday bash in Harare, were also in attendance at the CAF Extraordinary General Assembly in Manama, Bahrain on Monday. Their attendence is considered yet another demonstration of the close ties between the world’s football leaders and the new CAF leadership.
Pinnick, who resisted political pressure in his country where some leading politicians pushed for him to vote for Hayatou instead of Ahmad in the battle for the CAF presidency, will also be in charge of the CAF Media Committee.
“I’m happy to be part of this influential committee in African football and I owe it to my colleagues in the game for their trust in my leadership qualities and their hope that I can make a big difference in this committee,’’ Chiyangwa told The Southern Times from Bahrain.
“As a committee we have immense power and we can decide that a country doesn’t fit to host AFCON and another one also fits what we are looking for in a suitable host of this big tournament and we owe it to the continent to ensure that we discharge our duties in a very professional way.
“I think we will be visiting Cameroon in June to discuss their preparations for the 2019 AFCON finals and that shows you we are a people who mean business and there is no time to rest when you are in service of African football.’’
Nyantakyi, the Ghanaian football boss who also attended Chiyangwa’s birthday bash, was named the CAF first vice-president and this means the lawyer will be the second most powerful man in football on the continent.
The Ghanaian lawyer and banker, who took over as his country’s football chief in 2005, has been enjoying a meteoric rise in the game in the world despite his reputation having been called into question, three years ago, by a sting by the Daily Telegraph and Channel Four of Britain who claimed he was involved in an elaborate match-fixing scandal involving the Black Stars of Ghana playing in friendly matches organised by match-fixers.
Nyantakyi rejected the claims and was given benefit of doubt and, today, he is now the second most powerful man in African football and, with Ahmad indicating he won’t seek a second term as head of the game on the continent, the path appears to have been set for the Ghanaian to become the next CAF boss in four years’ time.
South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan, another key member of the revolution that toppled Hayatou, was this week named the new chairman of the CAF marketing and television committee and he is also the vice-chairman of the Club Licensing Committee.
And, in keeping with his vision to ensure that former footballers play a leading role in the administration of the game on the continent, Ahmad won his quest to ensure that Zambian football legend Kalusha Bwalya would be named the chairman of the CAF technical and development committee.
“Proud to have been appointed as Chairman of the #CAF Technical and Development committee @CAF_Online,’’ tweeted Bwalya who captained his country and also had a spell as the leader of the Football Association of Zambia.