The African football community heaved a sigh of relief earlier this month when Issa Hayatou was deposed as Caf President, with Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar taking his place.
Ahmad, a 57-year-old former president of Madagascar’s Football Federation, was widely unknown ahead of the election, which many people on the continent strongly believed would go the way of the 70-year-old Cameroonian. He's steadily beginning to get used to life in his new role, however, and has started to undertake official responsibilities this week.
However, Hayatou’s defeat was largely greeted with applause across Africa; the man many wanted out had finally left his post.
After 29 years of rule as president of the Confederation of African Football, it was high time he stepped down to make way for a new face and new ideas, but who would ‘bell the cat and stop the giant’?
While ruling Caf, Hayatou was as well one of the most influential personalities in Africa.
France-based pan-African magazine Jeune Afrique revealed in 2014 that the Cameroonian had the private telephone number of almost all the heads of states on the continent, where football remains the number sport and is exploited by politicians as a factor of national unity.
He enjoyed huge support from nearly all of Caf’s associated football associations and had loyal aides to sell his ideologies down to the grassroots.
However, despite the plaudits Hayatou has so often received, his staunch loyalists turned their back on him when it mattered most.
According to Ghana Football Association president Kwesi Nyantakyi, the wind of change was inevitable.
“Everyone thought that this was the time for change,” the Ghanaian administrator began, “and nothing could have stopped it.”
Ahmad might not have done anything significantly better than Hayatou’s previous opponents, but the Malagasy has perhaps emerged at the right time, when ‘enough was enough’, and with many people seeking to see the back of the Cameroonian, no matter the identity of his successor.
Refusing to run for a seventh term would have probably been the best decision to safeguard much of Hayatou’s legacy after almost three decades at the helm of Caf.
Today, all the reforms and improvements he facilitated in African football are being overshadowed by his unexpected loss to Ahmad, who was due to meet his staff at the confederation’s headquarters in Cairo on Sunday.
The new Caf president is still enjoying the bridal party and, as the departure of Hicham El Amrani suggests, he will not be received