It only took 29 long years after but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has witnessed the emergence of a new leader, Ahmad Ahmad.
At a presidential election that held on Thursday in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, Ahmad Ahmad won 34 of the 54 votes cast leaving former president Issa Hayatou with 20 votes.
But if you’re still wondering who Mr Ahmad is and how he managed to oust Issa Hayatou from a position he held since 1988, here’s some background into the man, Ahmad Ahmad.
A native of Madagascar, a country located off the Eastern coast of Africa, Ahmad was up until this election the president of the football association in his own country since 2003. He was re-elected as president for a third term in 2014 in an election where he polled 21 out of the 22 votes cast. What should be noted though is that the country, Madagascar where Ahmad represents has never qualified for the African Cup of Nations, let alone the World Cup.
Being the first serious candidate to challenge Hayatou in years, Ahmad led a strong campaign for the position. Al Jazeera reports that he had a rare and determined bid for “change” at the head of CAF, one which took many surprise. Ahmad announced his intention to run on 13 January 2017 in Libreville, a move that came with its own controversy. Hours after the announcement of his candidature, the Executive Committee of CAF (a committee which Ahmad also belonged to), withdrew the organisation of the under-17 AFCON from Madagascar due to poor preparation. At the time, Mr Hayatou’s critics said the move was intended to intimidate Ahmad.
Ahmad took his campaign to countries across the continent and is said to have appealed to the smaller ones who over time, had reportedly become disenfranchised with the confederation and its old leadership. Ahmad’s campaign train arrived Abuja, Nigeria early March where he met with Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung and other stakeholders in the Nigerian football space.
Ahmad who has an early career in playing and coaching promised to bring change to the African Football Confederation. He says he will modernise the body and make it more transparent, although his own transparency has once been questioned. Ahmad was accused of alleged corruption in the award of the 2022 World Cup ticket to Qatar. London’s Sunday Times reported that he received a bribe of 30,000 to 100,000 dollars in exchange for his vote for Qatar. Ahmad denied the claim and there was really no evidence to prove that he was involved in such act.
Ahmad Ahmad is now the seventh CAF president in the body’s 60-year history. Upon his win on Thursday, he said, “We worked hard but we won. That was the first step. The second step is to develop African football…When you try to do something, you mean that you can do it. If I can’t do it, I never stand.”
Ahmad is 57 years old and has two children.