Infantino’s African mess

Gianni Infantino campaigned heavily in Africa to reach his goal: To get the unknown Ahmad Ahmad elected as Caf president. Now the Fifa president is desperately trying to put out the fire he started without burning himself.

By Philippe Auclair and Pål Ødegård

Last week the African football confederation (Caf) announced that it had asked Fifa to intervene in its affairs, and that the Fifa secretary general, the Senegalese Fatma Samoura, had been assigned as a sort of ‘high commissioner’ with a mandate to fix the mess within the next six months. It’s the first time Fifa do this on confederation level, which by its own statutes is autonomous. It follows a series of scandals within Caf, forcing Fifa president Gianni Infantino to take unprecedented measures in order to stop a chain reaction he himself set in motion. 

The Silence of the Lambs 
July 2017
An unusually relaxed mood among Caf delegates was palpable in Skhirat, a small beach resort town between Rabat and Casablanca on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco. The Caf symposiums – the first of their kind in the history of African football – were about to be concluded. Everyone was happy and excited, as they finally were able to speak out on a wide range of topics, something they hadn’t been able to do during the former Caf president Issa Hayatou’s autocratic 29-year long reign. The then 70-year old Cameroonian had been looking forward to another coronation – his eighth – at the presidential election earlier in March of the same year at the Caf congress in Addis Ababa. In the run-up to it, he had killed in the bud a proposal to implement an age limit for the top seat. But he was surprisingly beaten by the Caf executive committee’s most silent member, the Malagasy politician Ahmad Ahmad, by a margin which wo...

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