TIMOTHY OLOBULU / AIPS* in KIGALI: Asian Football Confederation head Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa has been endorsed – to no surprise – as the preferred candidate for the Confederation of African Football in the forthcoming FIFA presidency election in Zurich on February 26.

A confirmatory announcement was made in Kigali, Rwanda after a CAF executive committee meeting to consider its official preference for a successor to disgraced and banned Sepp Blatter. Yet the value of the declaration was thrown into immediate doubt as the federations of both Egypt and Liberia declared their own support for Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al Hussein.

Sheikh Salman . . . important step forward

The CAF exco decision had been a forerun conclusion after the securing last month of a development agreement between the two confederations after which CAF president Issa Hayatou handed over day-to-day decision-making in Africa following criticism since he is also interim president of the world federation.

CAF second vice president Almamy Kabele Camara said: “After the CAF executive meeting today, we have unanimously decided to back Sheikh Salman as the next FIFA president.” Camara refused to take questions, only saying that CAF would release a comprehensive statement in due course.

Sexwale reaction

Reacting to the decision, South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale says he “had no hard feelings” and claimed he did not feel betrayed that his own confederation refused to throw its weight behind him.

Sexwale said: “It is democracy. What happened here today, is that CAF only endorsed a candidate. There is no voting that took place.

“Of course it would have made me feel better if they had thrown their weight behind me. But maybe next time I might get an endorsement from Asia or America. It is democracy. I don’t feel betrayed because, this is not a war. I want to congratulate Sheikh Salman for getting the endorsement.”

Sexwale said he had already given 10 endorsements from African federations and was not worried about how this development would affect the election, He did not expect Africa to a vote as a block, whatever the official opinion of the exco.

He added: “I am still in the ballot, up to Zurich. I have been sent by my own federation, the South African federation and so I can’t back down.”

In fact Sexwale had been an apparent subject of ‘dirty tricks’ when CAF had earlier claimed that he had withdrawn from the presidential race. In fact the South African businessman had withdrawn only his request for CAF endorsement.

Infantino support

Similar sentiments to his were expressed by UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino who is also running for the FIFA leadership and had been in Kigali meeting various heads of associations in a vote-hunting mission.

“I am not disappointed with this because it is something that has been in the air for a while now,” said Infantino. “CAF does not vote as a block. Each individual association votes on its own. I have spoken to and gained a lot of support from many African federations and I will still continue to seek their vote.”

FIFA candidates have been in Kigali for the African Nations Championships, using the opportunity to seek to persuade federation heads.

Apart from Sexwale and Infantino, Jerome Champagne has also been in the Rwandese capital as well as Sheikh Salman himself, present during the signing of the CAF/AFC MoU before the tournament began. Jordan FA president Prince Ali also visited Kigali before the tournament.

CAF statement:


The CAF Executive Committee at its meeting on 5 February 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda, presided over by Suketu Patel, 1st Vice President of CAF and Almamy Kabele Camara, 2nd Vice President of CAF, discussed the 26 February 2016 FIFA presidential elections, as a point on its agenda;

• As concerns the final list of candidates running up for FIFA presidency, made official last January 26 by the Ad hoc Electoral Committee of FIFA; 
• Considering the arguments raised by the different candidates when they showed up before the Executive Committee of CAF, and following the different discussions they had with the members of the same Committee;
• Considering the aspirations, the interests of the 54 member associations of CAF and the importance attached to the development of football in Africa;
• Considering the profiles of the candidates, their successive managerial and political experiences in leading Sports Association, Football Federations, Confederations and at FIFA;
• Considering the recent happenings at FIFA and the absolute necessity to implement solid reforms in order to rebuild trust for the world’s umbrella football organisation;
• Considering the need of FIFA to pursue a globalist vision, and remain an institution that guarantees equilibrium among the continents;    

Decides to offer its unanimous support to candidate, Shaikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, current President of the Asian Football Confederation, and a FIFA Vice President. 

While respecting the principle of democracy, the sovereignty, and latitude of each member association to vote for the candidate of its choice, the Executive Committee urges all the 54 member associations of the Confédération Africaine de Football to reserve their votes for Shaikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa during the 26 February 2016 elections for the presidency of FIFA in Zurich. 

In conformity to the delegation of power signed by CAF President, Issa Hayatou, on the 16 of January 2016, the 1st and 2nd Vice Presidents of CAF, within the scope of FIFA’s electoral process, are in charge of upholding relations among CAF, its member associations, and the other Confederations, and the incumbent responsibility to follow-up, for the ultimate benefit of African football and global football.

The CAF Executive Committee, during it meeting, also noted the withdrawal of Mr. Tokyo Sexwale from the race for FIFA presidency in order to support the interests and unity of African football.


** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide. More information: www.AIPSmedia.com

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