ZIFA and Cosafa president, Philip Chiyangwa has revealed that he held a meeting with Confederation of African Football (CAF) president, Issa Hayatou on the sidelines of the Fifa summit held in South Africa last week as his fallout with the continental football body took a fresh twist yesterday. BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Chiyangwa revealed the meeting with Hayatou in response to another warning from the CAF secretary-general Hicham El Amrani over his “birthday celebrations” gathering in Harare on Thursday night.
Fifa boss Gianni Infantino, who was accompanied by the association’s secretary-general Fatima Samoura, was the guest of honour at the event.
However, the CAF leadership reportedly believes the party was a front and the real purpose was to rally support for Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar ahead of the March 16 elections in Ethiopia.
Chiyangwa, who is campaign manager for CAF presidential aspirant, Ahmad, said he was surprised by the latest warning as he had already briefed Hayatou when the two met in Johannesburg on February 17.
“You seem to be unaware that at the specific instance and request of the second vice-president of CAF, Mr Almamy Kabele Camara, I had the pleasure of meeting both the president of CAF and the vice-president in Johannesburg on the 17th of February 2016. The contents of your earlier letter and of my response were duly exhaustively discussed in our meeting with issues of mutual concern aptly clarified between the parties.
“I, therefore, note with concern, that notwithstanding the meeting that I held with the president and vice-president of CAF on the subject, your latest correspondence conspicuously and rather curiously, does not at all mention the meeting specially convened by the CAF presidency. This is particularly startling as in your earlier letter you had advised that you were writing under the instruction of the CAF president. Surely, if I have since met with the CAF president, it would be important for you to capture the record of that engagement in your letter.
The issues you have mentioned in your letter are exactly the same that were discussed in my meeting with the CAF presidency,” Chiyangwa wrote to El Amrani.
El Amrani wrote to Chiyangwa on Friday questioning the Harare businessman’s claim that Thursday’s gathering was an informal meeting, which he organised in his personal capacity, citing his invitation letter to Mali FA president where he used the Cosafa letterhead.
He further informed Chiyangwa that the issue had been placed on the agenda at the CAF executive committee meeting in Ethiopia where one of the items was the “suspension or expulsion of a member”.
In his response, Chiyangwa insisted that he had done nothing wrong, arguing that the invitations which carried the Cosafa letterhead were both drafts. He, however, could not explain how the draft letters ended up with some of the football associations’ presidents on the continent.
“You have sought to place reliance on draft letters prepared for the invitation of the president of the Football Association of Zambia and the Mali Football Association, both drafts were not copied or intended to be copied to yourself and the formal communication ultimately dispatched to all the guests were very clear on the purpose of the function. At any rate, the debate on what the purpose of the meeting was intended to achieve is now moot as the reality of what has eventually transpired bears full testimony to the veracity of my intimations.”
Although Chiyangwa’s demands for an apology from the continental body over accusations of convening an unsanctioned meeting were turned down in Friday’s letter he still insisted that CAF apologise for the accusations in their first letter.
“As regards my request for an apology, as a matter of principle, I consider it virtuous and conscientious on your part to acknowledge error in understanding rather than seek to perpetuate a groundless contention. I, therefore, sincerely await the apology.”
At least 12 African football association presidents attended the Thursday gathering, including Ahmad, a former Malagasy minister who is challenging Hayatou for the CAF presidency.
Nigerian Football Association president Amaju Pinnick described Chiyangwa as “an astute leader and the future of African football”.
During the event, Infantino also gave the strongest hint yet that he is backing the calls for a leadership change in African football.
“The motto tonight is let’s celebrate victory and I love that motto. To celebrate victory, you have to win and you need to be brave and there are many brave men here in this room,” Infantino said.