20 March 2017

Africa: Issa Hayatou's Legacy At CAF!

analysis

The erstwhile President's 29-year-old tenure brought fame to the association as well as highlighted challenges to be surmounted by the new team.

It is no longer news that power has changed hands at the Confederation of African Football (CAF). As Madagascar's Ahmad Ahmad fetes his entry into the prestigious football powerhouse, there would be an absolute need to take a flashback look at the association his predecessor, Issa Hayatou has left, the strides made and prevailing hitches so as to seek solutions in his "struggle for change and modernity' which propelled him to the pinnacle. Irrespective of his near crushing defeat, Cameroon's Issa Hayatou has left a far better CAF than what he inherited in 1988. His works speak for him and present tasks for Ahmad Ahmad. The 29-year-old tenure of the Cameroonian certainly had a soft spot for making Africa great at the global front. Africa today counts five teams at the final phase of each FIFA World Cup, up from two prior to the ascension of the 71-year-old Issa Hayatou to the helm of the continental football body. This alone gives room for some countries to participate at the highest level in world football. Something that would have been difficult, if not near impossible, if what prevailed before persisted. Financial gains from such participations, Africa's football increasingly being brought to the limelight as well as some hitherto obscured players gaining global recognition and in due course clinching life-changing contracts with top professional clubs are quite visible. It would be sheer ingratitude not to credit Issa Hayatou for all these successes. Also, Africa today boasts of four seats at the Executive Bureau of the world football governing body, FIFA, up from one in the yesteryears. Mathematically, four voices weigh more than one. Reason why the continent is no easy pushover at almost all levels in FIFA. If Africa for the first time, through South Africa, brought the world to the continent in 2010 for a World Cup, no one can deny the fact that Issa Hayatou brought his heavy weight, both as President of CAF and Vice President of FIFA, to bear. The success of the event, in which Issa Hayatou was President of the Organising Committee, brought glory to all of Africa. Even back in the continent, the legendary biennial football bonanza, the African Nations Cup, today has 16 teams participating, up from the initial eight. Room is therefore given for more countries to showcase their football prowess. Before, nothing was known of women's football but today, the continent has a vibrant eight-nation female competition that is drawing applause from far and near. Who says Issa Hayatou is not to be credited for all these mutations at CAF! Moving from here and bringing in the much announced 'change and modernity' for the overall interest of Africans and African football is thus highly awaited.

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