KEIR RADNEDGE in PORT LOUIS: Mystery continues to surround Issa Hayatou and the ISL scandal.
Last December the Paris-based Cameroonian president of the African Football Confederation was reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee for having accepted an illicit payment of $20,000 from the former marketing partner of both the IOC and FIFA.
The mild nature of the punishment (both FIFA and the IOC prefer the less condemnatory ‘sanction’) derived partly from the fact that Hayatou had not been an IOC member when he accepted the money and partly because he claimed it had been provided merely to fund a CAF anniversary event.
Yet, remarkably, Hayatou’s name was not mentioned by FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert in his long-awaited, long-delayed ISL judgment in April.
Last week ago a German television report claimed that Eckert had asked FIFA’s ethics investigator Michael Garcia to revisit the issue of Hayatou and ISL.
Eckert and Garcia were asked to comment on the issue, by this writer on Friday at a rare joint press conference after FIFA Congress.
Former United States attorney Garcia said he could not offer any response because, whatever he said – even a formal “no comment” – ran the risk of being misinterpreted.
Eckert threw the issue decisively back into Garcia’s court by stating that the separation of their roles meant he could pass judgment only on whatever report the investigator/prosecutor handed to him.
Hayatou, meanwhile, has been offered the glimmer of a possibility to continue in command of CAF long beyond his currently stated retirement in four years’ time.
He would have to step down then because CAF statutes incorporate an age limit of 70 which he would have reached.
That was before FIFA president Sepp Blatter came out this week as opposed firmly to age limits. Further, Blatter insisted that whatever stance FIFA took over the issue should be mimicked by all confederations and national associations.
A likely FIFA vote next year against age limits will give CAF a green light to scrap its own regulation and thus maintain Hayatou in the presidency as long he wants.
Assuming Garcia and Eckert do not have second thoughts.