CAIRO: Ahmad Ahmad, new president of the African football confederation, has indicated that everything is up for review – including the staging of the Cup of Nations in January and February writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The Madagascar FA leader ousted long-serving Issa Hayatou last month and promised a thorough study of everything undertaken under the Cameroonian.
European clubs have complained for many years that the Nations Cup dates, plus its two-year staging, cut across their season and ever finals has been affected by club v country clashes.
Hayatou always insisted that the date slot suited Africa because most of its leeagues run their seasons to a calendar year schedule. However some of Ahmad supporters have suggested that media and sponsor values could be enhanced by a switch to the European summer.
Ahmad told local media: “I am not wholly against the idea of a change. But my gestures will be to listen to people and open the debate in an official way. Anything related to the Nations Cup is a priority for us. We must evolve. It will be a decision that will be good for the confederation, not just what suits its executive committee.”
He also promised to review CAF’s long-term right deal with the Lagardère Sports agency which, for many federations, was the last straw after growing irritation with Hayatou’s tight grip on cash and contracts.
The 12-year worldwide rights deal, which was signed in 2015, covers six Nations Cup tournaments, as well as exclusive rights for the qualifiers, plus the continent’s Champions League and other properties, from 2017 to 2028.
The rights were awarded without a formal tender process having taken place.
Ahmad said: “This contract is the subject of a judicial challenge in the Egyptian courts at the moment and it was to protect the integrity of CAF in this issue that the general secretary Hicham (El Amrani) submitted his resignation, which we accepted.
“We will investigate but I am concerned about the length of the contract. I would never sign anything for longer than three years.”