Madagascar Football Association chief Ahmad Ahmad (57) was last week elected as Confederation of African Football (CAF) President for a four year term during the 39th CAF ordinary general assembly held last week in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. Ahmad’s election ended Issa Hayatou’s 29 years reign, which was blighted by allegations of corruption.

Hayatou, (70) a former teacher, and sports minister from Cameroon was first elected as CAF president in 1988. Ahmad garnered 34 votes against Hayatou who managed 20 votes, to take over the leadership of the continent’s soccer governing body till 2021.

According to a CAF press release, in his acceptance speech, Ahmed thanked the delegates who supported, and voted for him, for their confidence, faith and trust.

“I want to thank this General Assembly who elected me as President. Also, thanks to my friends who worked very hard to get here. Let me also pay tribute to our president Issa Hayatou, and thank him for the good job he has done for African football. Henceforth, our CAF is starting a new era of history and we must all come together to take African football to enviable heights,” Ahmad said in his victory speech.

The new CAF president automatically becomes an executive member of FIFA council, and will also serve as a FIFA Vice President.

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Hayatou’s departure is seen as an opportunity for positive change in African football. His reign has been constantly criticized of favoritism, with deep divisions between the Anglophone and Francophone nations.

While conceding defeat during his speech, Hayatou who also formerly acted as the FIFA president in 2015, expressed gratitude to CAF for the opportunity to serve, and govern African football for close to three decades.

Issa Hayatou (70) led CAF for 29 years.

“I’m very grateful to serve African football for all these years. I had a lot of good memories of African football. I congratulate the newly elected president and want to emphasize that my doors are always open to him whenever needed towards development of football on the continent,” Hayatou said.

High expectations

Ahmad’s victory was greeted with celebration, and optimism. As a former player and coach, the new CAF president, who hails from the less prominent footballing nation of Madagascar, will be under pressure to turn tables, and improve African football to match international standards.

One of the biggest challenges affecting the continental confederation is lack of good governance, and transparency. There is criticism that there has not been significant investment in the game, based on the revenue collected and sponsorship deals or contributions from member nations.

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CAF was founded on the 8th February 1957 in Khartoum, Sudan as the sole administrative body controlling and governing African associations of football. It is the biggest of six continental confederations of FIFA. CAF manages continental, national, and club competitions, and controls the prize money, regulations and media rights to those competitions.