In his speech before the election that ended his 29-year reign as president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Issa Hayatou dismissed any possibility of changing the timing of the biennial African Cup of Nations which holds at the beginning of the year.
This is coming amid calls for the continental showpiece event to be rescheduled to accommodate European clubs who lose their African players midway through the season.
Hayatou said CAF would not “be dictated to by outside forces” and that the schedule was determined by climatic conditions.
“…this means having an African Nations cup that is played every two years, at a climatically convenient time, in a format that makes it possible for many countries to vy for its organisation,” he said.
The dates of the tournament every two years in January invariably draws criticism from European football clubs, who have to do without key African players at a crucial stage of the season. Most especially, the English Premier League.
“Never sway from the path that has been pioneered,” Hayatou told African member associations as the organisation celebrated its 60th anniversary on Thursday at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“The future of African football must be decided by Africans, you, members of the General Assembly, in the interest of Africans.
“We would never be transigent as concerns the emancipation, independence, emergence and the respect due to Africa and to Africans,” Hayatou added.
However, the Cameroonian’s speech was greeted by a shock defeat in the Presidential election that saw his opposition – Madagascar’s FA Boss Ahmad Ahmad – elected as the 7th President of the continet’s foremost football body.
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