FIFA’s acting president, Issa Hayatou has given up some of his powers as head of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) ahead of February 26 presidential election of the football’s world body.
Hayatou will leave CAF’s handling of the FIFA election and relations with other regional confederations to his two vice presidents, according to an official statement.
“The president, in agreement with the executive committee, just wants to exclusively wear his FIFA hat in handling the election for which the final phase will start on January 26 with the final list of candidates,” said a CAF spokesman Junior Binyam.
CAF decision to divest Hayatou powers for the time being, was taken last weekend, after a FIFA presidential candidate, Prince Ali bin al Hussein made a complaint over an accord made by the CAF and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) over the poll. Although CAF officials denied there was a gang-up, distancing Hayatou from the running of the continental soccer becomes the needful.
CAF said its executive committee on Saturday “authorised a delegation of powers” to first vice president Suketu Patel and second deputy Almamy Kabele Camara.
“They will be in charge of relations between CAF, other confederations, members and candidates for the FIFA presidential elections until the conclusion of the FIFA electoral process.”
Patel and Camara will also lead the African delegation at the FIFA election in Zurich on February 26. CAF is to decide on February 5 which of the five FIFA candidates it will back.
Hayatou, it would be recalled, took over the helm of FIFA following the suspension of former president, Sepp Blatter in October, 2015. Blatter faces a criminal investigation in Switzerland over a suspect $2 million payment to UEFA chief Michel Platini.
Meanwhile, Prince Ali has asked FIFA’s Electoral Committee to look into an accord made last Friday by the CAF and the AFC, which is headed by Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa a leading rival for the FIFA presidency.
“I am concerned that there has been an attempt to breach electoral rules in the FIFA presidential election,” Prince Ali said of the CAF-AFC accord announced in Kigali on Friday.
But Shaikh Salman has strongly denied any hint of misconduct, saying negotiations had started before he became a candidate for the FIFA presidency.
“I am astonished about my friend’s comments, which are wholly dismissed and entirely inaccurate,” Shaikh Salman said in a statement.
The other FIFA candidates are UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino, South African business tycoon Tokyo Sexwale and former FIFA official Jerome Champagne of France.
By Olisemeka Obeche