Fifa boss set for Zim

HARARE - Fifa president Gianni Infantino and dozens of FA presidents across Africa will visit the country next week to attend Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) president Philip Chiyangwa’s birthday celebrations and his recent appointment as the Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) president.

But the celebrations have already invited an angry response from the Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Issa Hayatou who sees Chiyangwa as leading a revolution to topple him from power during next month’s Caf elections.

Hayatou has since written a letter to Chiyangwa, threatening him against hosting his bash but the flamboyant businessman, is defying the Caf boss saying nobody can stop him from hosting his friends in Zimbabwe and that the celebrations will go ahead.

Confirming Infantino’s visit yesterday, Chiyangwa told the Daily News that the Fifa boss will come with his team to join in the celebrations which also coincide with his first anniversary as the country’s football boss.

“Infantino has confirmed his visit and efforts to get his travelling documents including visa application are already underway,” Chiyangwa said, adding that “the event will also be graced by between 40–50 FA presidents from the continent.

Some of the Fifa officials making Infantino’s entourage include director of associations members Veron Mosengo Omba and Larts Nils Mattias. 

Chiyangwa, who assumed Zifa presidency a year ago, became the first Zimbabwean when he ascended to the post of Cosafa president unopposed at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in South Africa last tear December.

The Harare businessman took over from Seychelles’ Suketu Patel, who decided not to stand after completing two terms in office.

However, Haytou, alarmed by the impending celebrations in Harare, views the gathering as an attempt to plot his downfall ahead of next month’s Caf elections.

Hayatou, 71, is also the senior vice-president of Fifa and the Cameroonian was re-elected unopposed during the last Caf presidential elections in 2013. He had previously stated this term would be his last until a change of regulations altered his stance.

In 2015, Caf voted to change the statutes which previously stopped officials serving past the age of 70.

Hayatou, who has presided over African football since 1988, is seeking an outrageous eighth term at the helm of the continental football body, and has written to the Zifa boss advising him to first seek his clearance.

“The Caf leadership has been informed that a meeting is convened by yourself in your capacity as Cosafa chairman, in Harare, Zimbabwe, on February 24th 2017, right after the Fifa Executive Summit planned in Johannesburg on February 21st to 23rd 2017,” reads a letter from Hayatou.

“Such a meeting would not include only presidents of member associations of Cosafa, but also presidents of many member associations outside the zonal union of Cosafa.

“The Caf leadership would like to remind you that you do not have any authority to convene such a meeting, without Caf knowledge nor without its required approval.

“While it would be acceptable to convene a meeting of the leaders of your zonal union, convening a meeting with representatives of many member associations outside Cosafa zone is deemed to represent an attempt to destabilise Caf.”

Interestingly, Cosafa has thrown its weight behind Madagascar Football Association president Ahmad Ahmad’s candidature for the Caf presidency in next month’s elections in Ethiopia.

The decision for Ahmad’s audacious bid to dethrone Hayatou was arrived at last weekend’s Cosafa meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa where Chiyangwa expressed satisfaction with the resolutions made.

With the Cosafa support, Ahmad is assured of the backing of the 14 member states under the umbrella body.

Citing Article 2.3 of the Caf statutes, Hayatou  stated that  “any person or organisation involved in football in Africa has to respect at all times and unreservedly the principles of ethics and fair play enacted by Caf, the principles of integrity and sportsmanship as well as the Statutes, regulations, decisions and directives of Caf and Fifa,” Hayatou added.

“Furthermore, please be kindly reminded that Articles 14.2 of Caf Statutes clearly highlight obligations of zonal unions, including articles 14.2.c and 14.2.d: “…each zonal union shall have the obligation to fully comply with the Statutes, regulations, directives, and decisions of Caf and Fifa, work in close collaboration with Caf in all spheres, in order to attain the objectives of the Confederation.

“We draw your attention therefore to the obligation of all zonal unions to respect the authority of Caf, and not to conduct in any activities that undermine the common objectives of Caf, for the benefit of African football development.

“We are keen therefore to receive further details on this planned meeting in Harare, and we do hope that Caf statutes and directives will be fully complied with at all times. The Caf executive committee reserves its rights to sanction any infringement to the Caf statutes.”

The 39th Caf General Assembly, where the election of new Caf president will be the main agenda, will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from March 16-17, 2017, with more than 380 delegates expected to attend.

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