ADDIS ABABA: The Confederation of African Football has confirmed that it will proceed with a disciplinary case against Zimbabwe Football Association president Phillip Chiyangwa, ahead of the continental governing body’s presidential elections.
Chiyangwa has emerged as an outspoken critic of current CAF president Issa Hayatou who is standing for an eighth term.
Hayatou’s only opponent is Madagascar Football Association president Ahmad Ahmad, who Chiyangwa has publicly backed to take on the role. Chiyangwa declared his allegiance after he was reported to have described CAF executives as “cowards” and “cronies” for not standing up to Hayatou, who has served in the top job for 29 years.
The CAF has said that Chiyangwa’s recent actions and statements appear to “attack the honour of the CAF, its president and the members of the executive committee.” CAF spokesman Junior Binyam declined to give details of the exact charges or possible sanctions against Chiyangwa as the case remains “in a legal process”.
Chiyangwa told the Associated Press news agency that he has not been informed of the charges he faces, nor when his disciplinary hearing will take place. It is also unclear whether Chiyangwa will be allowed to vote in tomorrow’s elections.
“Let me say it (the charges) will die at the electoral congress tomorrow,” he said. “They are after me, but I’m after them at the ballot box. That’s the decider and after the elections tomorrow I will sleep well and they will be miserable.”
Property tycoon Chiyangwa has only been involved in football since 2015, but has publicly criticised Hayatou and the CAF on numerous occasions. Earlier this month, he told a Nigerian radio station that Hayatou is “our old man who does not listen to anybody”.
Last month, Chiyangwa was also involved in a dispute with CAF over a party that he hosted in Zimbabwe and was attended by various African football heads, as well as Gianni Infantino, president of world football governing body Fifa.
Ahead of the meeting, CAF issued a warning to the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) over the gathering it staged with nations outside its home region, stating the get-together was “an attempt to destabilise” the continental governing body. Chiyangwa, who was elected as the new president of COSAFA in December, called the meeting with African national association chairmen in Harare on February 24.
All 54 CAF full-member countries will vote in tomorrow’s elections, to establish not only who will take on the role of president, but also the individuals that will fill Africa’s other six places on the Fifa Council.
Hayatou, who served as the interim president of Fifa following Sepp Blatter’s departure, was re-elected unopposed in the last CAF presidential elections in 2013. In April 2015, the CAF Congress in the Egyptian capital Cairo saw all 54 associations vote in favour of a proposal to change the statutes which previously stopped officials serving past the age of 70.
Hayatou, who is now 70 and in his seventh consecutive term in office having first been elected as president in 1988, had already made it clear that he wished to run for an eighth term. However, in order for him to do so, the age limit rules needed to be scrapped.
The proposal to change the age limit rules came after success in recent years in adopting CAF statutes to limit the chances of potential opponents to Hayatou, including restricting presidential candidates to current members of the CAF Executive Committee.