Football Football

Hayatou affirms support for Blatter


HAYATOU-ISSACAIRO, April 7- The president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Issa Hayatou on Tuesday affirmed Africa’s support for outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter who at 79 years is seeking a fifth term in office.

Blatter, whose leadership has been plagued by scandal, has headed FIFA since 1998, and is now competing against three rivals for the top world football job — Jordanian Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, Dutchman Michel van Praag and former Portugal star Luis Figo.

“His action in favour of Africa speaks for him. To us, he is still the man of the situation,” Cameroonian Hayatou said at the start of CAF’s two-day general assembly in Cairo attended by Blatter.

Blatter brought the World Cup to Africa for the first time in 2010 and FIFA’s financial support has helped keep many African national federations afloat.

It would be a shock if Blatter failed to garner all 54 African votes in the May 29 election in Zurich.

Hayatou, 68, recalled that the executive committee of CAF had in September “initiated a motion of support for the candidature” of Blatter that resulted in “an exhortation made to all 54 member federations of CAF to guarantee their votes to him when the time comes.”

“Dear Sepp, Africa is comfortable having you, she stays with you!,” Hayatou said, according to an official English translation of his speech made in French.

Blatter’s three rivals also attended the two-day CAF meeting as observers.

The four candidates had no right to speak at the meeting, but Blatter was invited to address the gathering as FIFA president where he highlighted the world football body’s work in Africa.

“Together we have built football in Africa,” said Blatter. “We FIFA have invested about $760 million in Africa.”

Blatter’s rival Van Praag called for more transparency in the functioning of FIFA when he spoke to AFP on the sidelines of the meeting.

FIFA “needs openness, no one knows what actually happens behind curtains in FIFA, and how decisions are taken”, the Dutch football chief said in English.

Van Praag said that FIFA also needed more democracy and accountability.

“I believe that the football federations should know to the last penny where the money is spent and how it is spent, and now this is not the case,” he added.

The CAF meeting will also choose a host country for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, and make the qualifying draw for that competition.