Defiant Sexwale refuses to throw in the towel despite CAF not backing him for Fifa presidency
Tokyo Sexwale’s bid for the Fifa presidency is not over, despite his being snubbed by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Friday.
And the politician-turned-businessman believes he still has a chance to ascend to the top position in global football.
On Friday, CAF posted on its website that Sexwale had “withdrawn from the race in order to support the interests and unity of African football”.
But Sexwale countered the continental football governing body’s statement. Through his aid, Peter-Paul Ngwenya, Sexwale yesterday confirmed he still intended to stand at the February 26 elections in Zurich, Switzerland.
Just before the continental body could decide on its preferred candidate for the Fifa post, Sexwale told CAF that his name should not be considered.
In a letter sent to the confederation, Sexwale wrote: “We heard the message very clearly from the CAF vice-presidents that, out of the five candidates, your preference is generally decided, and it is not ourselves.
“Thus, in the interest of African football unity, and in order to let the [executive committee] exercise its free choice, my name should not be included in the list of those you shall be considering today for nomination as candidate for the forthcoming Fifa presidential election on February 26.”
CAF’s executive committee, which met in Kigali, agreed to support Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa’s bid to succeed Sepp Blatter as Fifa’s boss.
CAF argued that it took into consideration all the factors presented to its executive before making its decision.
. The aspirations and interests of the 54 member associations of CAF and the importance attached to the development of football in Africa;
. The profiles of the candidates, their respective managerial and political experiences in leading sports associations, football federations, confederations and Fifa;
. The recent happenings at Fifa and the absolute necessity to implement solid reforms in order to rebuild trust in the world’s umbrella football organisation; and
. The need for Fifa to pursue a globalist vision and remain an institution guaranteeing equilibrium among continents.
Sexwale’s association, Safa, said it would not go against CAF’s decision.
The Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) and all seven of the Central American Football Union’s members — Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Belize and Nicaragua — declared their support for Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino.
Apart from CAF’s support, the sheikh is also assured of Asia’s support.
Although CAF’s decision is not binding, as members are autonomous, the confederation has urged its members to vote for the sheikh.
CAF wrote on its website: “While respecting the principle of democracy, the sovereignty and latitude of each member association to vote for the candidate of its choice, the executive committee urges all the 54 member associations of [CAF] to reserve their votes for [the sheikh].”
Although failing to win Africa’s support for his campaign was a huge embarrassment for Sexwale, the signs had long been there.
As emotions cool about CAF’s decision, instead of bemoaning the slight on the sole African representative, one might point a finger at the former anti-apartheid stalwart’s campaign strategy as the thing that ultimately put paid to any chance of him ascending to one of the most powerful positions in the world.
Sexwale was apparently told by a Safa emergency committee on Tuesday to withdraw his “hopeless candidature” to avoid the embarrassment of being snubbed by CAF.
But he refused.
AN UNHAPPY CONTINENT
What sealed Tokyo’s fate
- According to a CAF executive committee member in Kigali, Sexwale’s campaign was “nonexistent”.
- CAF told him that because of his poor campaign strategy, it did not know what he stood for and it did not think he had Africa’s agenda at heart.
- His travels to the US, Europe and the United Arab Emirates instead of Africa made the continent see red.
- He is the only candidate not to have mounted a full-time campaign.
- His biggest error was when he snubbed Africa’s football awards in Abuja, Nigeria, going instead to the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich.
- He also skipped the West African Football Union Congress in Accra, Ghana, a meeting attended by the other Fifa presidential candidates, something that particularly irritated Africa’s most powerful bloc.
Votes by continent
54 – Africa
53 – Europe
46 – Asia
35 – North and Central America and the Caribbean
11 – Oceania
10 – South America