Fifa is today electing its president with Africa divided on which candidate to vote for after Malawi and other associations opposed the Confederation of African Football (CAF) decision to back Sheikh Salman of Bahrain’s bid.
The elected president will succeed Sepp Blatter who is currently on suspension after being linked to various corruption and fraud that has paralysed the image of the world football governing body.
In the past elections, almost all the 54 CAF affiliates have been rallying behind Blatter, who has been credited for uplifting football structures, through the Goal Projects.
After a meeting CAF held in Rwanda earlier this month, the continental body’s vice presidents Suketu Patel and Almamy Kabele Camara said at a news conference that they have resolved to back Salman.
In reaction, FAM, which did not send a representative at the meeting, said it will an independent decision after scrutinising the presidential aspirants manifesto.
Other candidates who were cleared of allegation of corruption include Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of Jordan, the former Fifa official Jérôme Champagne from France, the Uefa general secretary, Gianni Infantino from Switzerland, and Tokyo Sexwale, a former anti-apartheid activist from South Africa.
Meanwhile, football analyst and former FAM chief executive officer Charles Nyirenda said African countries were supposed to be united and vote for one candidate.
“If CAF opted for Salman it means they have discovered that his agenda is good for Africa. The best way was for Fam and the rest of Africa support Salman bid because surely CAF has done a thorough analysis of all the candidates manifesto,” he said.
Nyirenda feared that African countries that are backing other candidates may find it difficult to benefit from Salman’s administration if he wins.
“Most probably, it will be difficult for the other nations to get support from Salman for publicly opposing his bid,” Nyirenda said.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu, who has kept his choice a secret, said the atmosphere in Zurich was peaceful but anticipated a tough race.
“It will be a tight race,” said Nyamilandu in a response from Zurich. n