Post-Hayatou: No united front in Africa

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Phillip Chiyangwa

ZIMBABWE has been left having to mend relations with Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Ahmad Ahmad after it emerged that South African football chief Danny Jordaan lost the election for the vacant seat on the Fifa Council chiefly due to his country’s decision to go against Morocco’s failed 2016 World Cup bid.

By Enock Muchinjo

Like South Africa, the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) also voted against Morocco in favour of the united bid of Canada, Mexico and the United States.

African football boss Ahmad, however, publicly backed Morocco, a country with which he has strong ties.

The vast majority of African countries responded positively and voted for Morocco, while South Africa was joined in Southern Africa by Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique in voting against the North Africans.

With Fifa president Gianni Infantino having also supported the Canada-Mexico-US bid — known as United 2026 — victory for Jordaan would seem to weaken Ahmad’s standing, so the Caf boss threw in his lot with Malawian Walter Nyamilandu, who defeated Jordaan with a majority 35 votes to 18 in a second round of voting in Sharm-el-Sheikh‚ Egypt, last weekend.

The South African Football Association (Safa) had initially announced its support for Morocco, but changed its vote after a directive from the South African government.

Similarly, Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa said he voted for the United 2026 bid after consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It is well-known how both Chiyangwa and Jordaan played key roles in catapulting Ahmad into the Caf presidency after fronting a spirited campaign that successfully ousted long-serving head Issa Hayatou.

But with his position likely to weaken in the post-2016 World Cup bid, Ahmad went into a new alliance and rallied the countries that voted for Morocco to cast their ballots in favour of outsider Nyamilandu.

This leaves both Chiyangwa and Jordaan having to start all over again in creating ties with not only Ahmad, but the bloc that voted for both Morocco and Nyamilandu.

It defies logic, because all these countries were close allies with Chiyangwa and Jordaan in the anti-Hayatou crusade and it will be interesting if they can be able to forge a united front again.

And African having hugely contributed to Infantino’s Fifa victory in 2016, and now going against United 2026 and the Swiss’ preferred candidate in Jordaan for the vacant Fifa Council post — the continent will have to come full circle to be sailing in the same direction with Infantino again.

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