Zifa president, Philip Chiyangwa, has crossed swords with Confederation of African Football (Caf) boss, Issa Hayatou, over his invitation of Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, as well as FA presidents of other countries.
BY Kevin Mapasure
Infantino has confirmed he will be coming to Zimbabwe following Chiyangwa’s invitation.
The Caf leadership has been agitated by the “meeting”, which, according the continental body, is set to be held in Harare on February 24.
Chiyangwa insisted yesterday that the gathering was simply to celebrate both his birthday, as well as triumph in the Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa), where he was elected president of the regional body last year.
Hayatou is running for the Caf presidency, where he will be pitted against Madagascar’s Ahmad Ahmad in an election that will be held on March 16 in Ethiopia.
Cosafa members held a meeting at the weekend, where they threw their weight behind Ahmad’s candidature.
Last Saturday, Caf secretary-general, Hicham El Amrani, wrote to Chiyangwa expressing reservations about the gathering in Harare, warning that it could attract sanctions.
The letter reads in part: “The president of Caf, Issa Hayatou, directs me to send you this letter in relation to the above-mentioned subject (convening of presidents of member associations in Harare, Zimbabwe, on February 24, 2017).
“The Caf leadership has been informed that a meeting is convened by yourself in your capacity as Cosafa chairman, in Harare, Zimbabwe on February 24, 2017, right after the Fifa executive summit planned in Johannesburg on February 21, 2017. Such a meeting would not include only presidents of many member associations outside the zonal union of Cosafa. The Caf leadership would like to remind you that you do not have any authority to convene such a meeting, without Caf’s knowledge nor without its required approval.”
Caf suggested that convening such gathering would undermine the continental body’s authority.
“We draw your attention, therefore, to the obligation of all zonal unions to respect the authority of Caf and not to conduct in any activities that undermine the common objectives of Caf for the benefit of African football development. We are keen, therefore, to receive further details of this meeting and we hope that Caf statutes and directives will be fully complied with at all times. The Caf executive committee reserves its rights to sanction any infringement to the Caf statutes.”
Yesterday, Chiyangwa confirmed that Infantino was on the guest list at the gathering, where Hayatou was not invited.
He was clear that he would support Hayatou’s rival at the Caf election.
“We, as Zimbabwe, have a position and our position is that we will support everything that is in tandem with Cosafa resolutions,” he said.
“I do not understand why people are agitated about this gathering, which is only to celebrate my birthday, as well my ascendancy to the Cosafa presidency. When people begin to have an interest in such gatherings, it only means they are scared of the election that is coming.”
Chiyangwa said a lot has been happening and said he snubbed the Africa Cup of Nations finals because he was under Caf surveillance.
Last month, Guinea Bissau Football Association boss, Opes Manuel Nascimento, accused Infantino of dividing Africa, saying the Fifa boss had done nothing for the continent.
“We have elections for the Confederation of African Football coming on March 16 and can you imagine a whole Fifa president is meeting people separately because he wants a change in Africa,” he said.
Chiyangwa leapt to Infantino’s defence, saying: “I listened to an interview granted by Nascimento, where he threw decorum, caution and dignity into the air by not only casting aspersions, but directly throwing tantrums at the personality of the symbol of global football, Infantino,” he said.
“Indeed, the majority of presidents of various federations in Africa hold a radically contrary view and I am constrained to respond on their behalf. We are indeed very proud of him and would continue to pledge our unflinching support and loyalty.”
Hayatou, who has held the Caf top post since 1988, was against the Infantino’s election to the top football post and had said the continent would back Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim al Khalifa.