MALABO: Issa Hayatou’s near three-decade leadership of African football is facing its greatest crisis after a year of reputation-shredding exposure of administrative incompetence and confusion writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Shaming pay rows marred the World Cup campaigns of three African nations in Brazil last year and then the African Football Confederation faced Nations Cup chaos after Morocco pulled out of hosting the finals because of the ebola crisis.

At short notice CAF shifted the finals to Equatorial Guinea where serious crowd misbehaviour married two of the hosts games – including their defeat by DR Congo in Wednesday’s semi-final. The hosts have been fined heavily but will not, as feared, be forced to play Saturday’s third-place play-off behind closed doors.

Issa Hayatou . . . first elected as CAF president in 1988

Ivory Coast face Ghana in Sunday’s final.

The failure of African football to make the sort of administrative progress to match the talent of its footballers on the pitch has been an increasingly glaring failure of the reign of Hayatou, the Cameroonian who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee.

Hayatou is also one of the few ‘survivors’ in senior sports administrative roles to have survived the fall-out from the ISL payments scandal.

Change of guard

Heavy pressure from European football for a change of guard within FIFA risks tipping over into Africa whose federations are considered likely to obey Hayatou orders and support Sepp Blatter in the world federation’s presidential election in May.

This led directly to the CAF executive committee feeling the need to express a unanimous vote of confidence in his leadership – and a vote of confidence, as every football fan knows, means the subject is in serious trouble with the command and control dangerouosly weakened.

A statement on the CAF website said:

“Considering the significant advancements in the development of African football and the growing awareness CAF competitions whose numbers has increased from three (3) to eleven (11) since 1988 following the election of Issa Hayatou to the presidency of the Confederation African Football;

“Considering the enhanced representation and participation of Africa in all international competitions and the governing bodies of world football since the same year (1988);

“Recalling that the 30th edition of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations could only be held in Equatorial Guinea through interpersonal skills of the CAF president Issa Hayatou, who unfortunately has been subject of a biased press derogatory campaign;

“Denounces the strategy of using the CAF president as a scapegoat by those who seek by all means to acquire a good conscience for themselves;

“Expresses its full support – unconditional and unqualified – to the CAF president and his leadership of African football;

“Expresses its sincere gratitude to the CAF president for his ongoing involvement in the development of football in Africa.

Signed: Suketu Patel, Almamy Kabele Camara, Amadou Diakite, Adoum Djibrine, Mohamed Raouraou, Magdi Shams El Din, Tarek Bouchamaoui, Kalusha Bwalya, Kwesi Nyantakyi, Constant Omari, Leodegar Tenga, Ahmad Anjorin Moucharafou, Molefi Oliphant, Hani Abo Rida, Jacques Anouma, Lydia Nsekera.”