Infantino praises Chiyangwa

HARARE - New Fifa President Gianni Infantino - who met President Robert Mugabe last month a day after he attended a birthday party for the country's football chief Philip Chiyangwa - has hailed the cordial and heartfelt welcome he received in Zimbabwe.

The 46-year-old Swiss-Italian, who jetted into Harare from Johannesburg to attend the birthday party of Zimbabwe football chief, said he and Fatma Samoura, the Fifa secretary general, landed in Zurich sound and safe.

He said he wanted to express his “profound gratitude” for the “thoughtful invitation, wonderful welcome and the warm attention I received during my stay in Zimbabwe.”

At least 12 football association presidents from across Africa, politicians and other high-profile celebrities attended the party at a five-star hotel where the Harare property developer looked resplendent in a light pink suit and pink shoes.

The party was convened to celebrate Chiyangwa's 58th birthday and his election as Cosafa president in December.

“On behalf of the entire delegation, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for heartfelt and cordial welcome extended to us. I felt honoured and privileged to have had the unique opportunity to visit your beautiful country and enjoy many memorable moments in your company, culminating with the celebration of your birthday at the Rainbow Towers,” the letter to Chiyangwa said.

This came after Caf president Issa Hayatou had attempted to stop the Zifa boss from inviting various non-Cosafa officials to the Harare party ostensibly to plot the veteran’s downfall.

The Native Investments Africa Group founder is campaign manager for Ahmad Ahmad, a former Malagasy government minister, who is challenging Hayatou on March 16 in Addis Ababa for the Caf presidency.

“I look forward to seeing you again at the 39th Caf Ordinary General Assembly in Addis Ababa,” Samoura said in the letter. 

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