This is forever: African football chief gets bitten by president-for-life bug

Issa Hayatou, in office since 1988, wants another bite of the cherry he has been eating alone all these years.

NOBODY has ever accused the Confederation of African Football, the body that runs the game on the continent, of democratic practices.

But this past week the usually grouchy old men at CAF have taken the game to a higher level.  Its president, Issa Hayatou, is reportedly seeking to rule forever, despite having headed the body since 1988.

The current mandate of Hayatou, who is a spritely 68, ends in 2017, and his henchmen are looking to keep him going, much in the mould of his benefactor, Sepp Blatter, who at 78 is also seeking a new term at the helm of world football.

The pair, bound tightly by  shared visions of their infallibility despite having run against each other in the past, were in particularly good form at the just-ended Africa Cup of Nations, where they accused western media of seeking to “perpetuate colonialism” for reporting on riots in the stadiums.

CAF deeply admires Fifa, and as such would want to duplicate its best practices, including on longevity. 

“Fifa does not have age limits for its committee members so CAF wants to bring this in line with them,” executive committee member Kwesi Nyantakyi said.

Current CAF rules do not contemplate presidential candidates older than 70 years of age.

If the changes to the rule are passed by his buddies as expected, Hayatou, a Cameroonian, would snooze in the seat until he is at least 75. And even there is no guarantee he would would be inclined to depart.

The Cameroonian connection would also seem to inform his intention to stay around—his president back home, Paul Biya, has been in power since 1982, with little sign of tiring.

Changing the goalposts has in the past been used to great effect by the wise men at CAF: a previous rule introduced the requirement that candidates for the presidency could only come from the ranks of its own executive committee. No prizes for guessing who is in charge here.

Interestingly, Fifa does not have the same restriction. Essentially, despite its great and professed admiration for Fifa practices, in this sense CAF is very much its own man. Or Blatter is very much African. Take your pick.

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