JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, March 10 – Cameroonian Issa Hayatou was re-elected unopposed as president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Sunday after taking a thinly disguised swipe at disqualified challenger Jacques Anouma.
An amendment to the rules last year restricted the race to voting members of the CAF executive committee, ruling Ivorian Anouma out, and four attempts to overturn the decision were rejected by the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS).
“Presidents of the national federations approved an amendment preventing a few of them from participating in the race for the CAF presidency,” Hayatou told the CAF general assembly in central Moroccan city Marrakech.
“The amendment permits only those who have held positions of responsibility within the institution to run for the presidency. The principle of the sovereignty of the general assembly was recognised by CAS.”
Hayatou, a 66-year-old who has ruled African football for a record 25 years, praised his executive and national association members for “exemplary conduct” during the Anouma case.
He scored crushing wins over Angolan Armando Machedo and Batswana Ismail Bhamjee in two challenges to his presidency and, judged by the 44-6 vote backing the amendment, Anouma would probably have suffered a similar fate.
The Cameroonian lauded assembly hosts Morocco: “It is 25 years since I was selected to head African football here in Morocco so this country holds special memories for me.
“Morocco has been a great, willing and constant supporter of African football for a long time and we are pleased to be here again,” he said of the country scheduled to stage the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
The qualifying draw, originally scheduled for this weekend, was put back to next January or February in South Africa, who will then be hosting the 2014 African Nations Championship for home-based footballers.
CAF said there will be a 10-team, two-leg preliminary round followed by a 12-group mini-league phase with the winners and best three runners-up joining automatic qualifiers Morocco at the biennial African football showcase.
Nigeria are the defending champions after overcoming surprise side Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final in Soweto last month while Mali came third and Ghana fourth.
The pan-African body also announced that stadiums hosting international fixtures involving national teams and clubs face inspections and those deemed inadequate would be barred.
Guests attending the general assembly include FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who hailed Hayatou for the “commendable strides made by African football”, and UEFA boss Michel Platini.