Football

ZIFA supports Ahmad’s bid for CAF second term

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  • “I personally admire the reforms that he made at the CAF secretariat and in women’s football,” said Kamambo.

CONFEDERATION of African Football (CAF) president Ahmad Ahmad has submitted his candidacy to serve a second term in office when elections take place next March, and ZIFA president, Felton Kamambo, said he supports the Malagasy national.

The 60-year-old, who took charge in 2017, has been formally entered into the race by Madagascar’s federation, as per CAF rules which require any candidate to be nominated by his own association.

Yesterday’s confirmation is a culmination of weeks of intense boardroom activities which have seen 46 of the CAF’s 45 association presidents append their signatures to a statement calling on Ahmad to consider contesting again.

Kamambo did not throw his weight behind those boardroom moves saying he did not believe in going into a bloc arrangement with the COSAFA leaders and the association will, instead, go it alone.

“If Ahmad puts his name forward, we are ready to support him. It’s obvious that we want to see continuity. But like I said, we don’t put our support through groups. We will make an official announcement on ourselves.

“As ZIFA we are happy with what we have seen so far during Ahmad’s campaign.

“I personally admire the reforms that he made at the CAF secretariat and in women’s football,” said Kamambo.

The endorsements for Ahmad were obtained via the continent’s regional groups that include COSAFA, CECAFA, West Africa Football Union, Central Africa and North Africa.

COSAFA president, Philip Chiyangwa, who played a key part in Ahmad’s election victory in 2017, is again the campaign manager for the CAF president’s re-election bid in 2021.

Yesterday, the 60-year-old Ahmad said he had formally accepted the request from the CAF member nations to stand for re-election.

“I accepted to be a candidate while listening to the presidents of the federation, around 46 of whom asked me after receiving my assessment of my initial mandate,” Ahmad told BBC Sport Africa.

Ahmad decided to stand again despite being the subject of an ongoing FIFA Ethivs enquiry, which has the potential to derail his bid and throw March’s elections wide open.

“As I have previously announced, I said I would pursue a second mandate if the need was there,” he said.

“This is an outcome of working together, of management which involves everybody, which has been happening since 2017.’’

Ahmad is the sole candidate to have submitted his candidacy, during the registration period, which ends on November 12.

FIFA Council member Tarek Bouchamoui, who had wanted to run, was effectively blocked from running by the Tunisian FA.

A bid could come from Nigeria FA boss Amaju Pinnick who refused to rule himself out of the race when speaking to the BBC last month.

“It’s always good during an election to have a rival candidate, but we wait,” said Ahmad. “I know that some people are waiting (for) other things unrelated to the elections but, as for the elections themselves, they all know they cannot beat me given I represent a group of people who want to go forward together.”

Ahmad was seemingly referring to the looming FIFA Ethics case against him, which was opened last year after former Secretary General Amr Fahmy made various allegations to football’s world governing body against the Malagasy – all of which Ahmad denies.

French anti-corruption authorities have also been interested in one of the allegations, which centres on a controversial with Tactical Steel, a little-known French gym manufacturer run by an old friend of Ahmad’s then attaché, which provided sportswear equipment to CAF in 2017.

An original deal with Puma — slightly smaller, but costing four times less – was cancelled.

FIFA have yet to release information about the investigation but has twice sent auditors to CAF, with Pricewaterhouse Coopers — in a damning initial report that leaked in February — questioning missing funds amounting to over US$20m while also calling for further investigation into Ahmad’s role in the Tactical Steel affair.

“I challenge today for anyone to see me to find out what has become of the US$24m they said we have stolen from FIFA,” he said.

“I do not understand why it is taking so long. But, I don’t want to comment on that, especially as the investigation is ongoing and so confidentiality must surround the process.

‘’Time will tell.”

Should he be able to both run and secure a second term in office, Ahmad says he wants to introduce further changes.

“My priority would be to continue reform on the administrative side, and restructure our competitions — improving our Champions League, strengthening our youth competitions and putting in place for the first time our Women’s Champions League,” he said.

Earlier this year, during an unprecedented period in football history when FIFA sent their General Secretary, Fatma Samoura to CAF, in a bid to improve governance, world football governing body president, Gianni Infantino, announced a billion-dollar plan to create an African Super League.

“We need Mr Infantino for that and all those who can give us help on that are welcome,” said Ahmad about a plan of which little has been heard since.

He also says he wants to help strengthen Africa’s six regional zones and help individual associations undertake reform. — BBC/CAF/Herald

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