Done and dusted . . .FIFA boss confirms visit to Zim next week

Gianni Infantino

Gianni Infantino

Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has refused to be bullied by the ugly politics triggered by the CAF leadership by confirming he will travel to Harare next week for a landmark visit he hopes will lay the foundation for football’s success in this country.

Infantino is scheduled to arrive in Harare on Thursday evening and then leave the next day, in a visit pregnant with football political baggage after CAF boss Issa Hayatou expressed his reservations to the possibility of a gathering of football leaders in Harare next week.

Hayatou, the long-serving CAF president, faces a battle to retain his hold on the leadership of football on the continent next month and believes the football leaders who will converge in Harare next weekend will be using the occasion to campaign for his rival Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar.

ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa insists the gathering is a glitzy bash to celebrate his belated birthday and also his rise to become the COSAFA president and has invited Infantino to be the guest of honour at the show.

A number of football leaders from across the continent are also expected to gather in the capital.

Chiyangwa is the election manager of Ahmad, but has insisted that next weekend’s bash has nothing to do with the CAF elections just like the convergence of football leaders, in Gabon recently, for the 2017 Nations Cup finals, including scores of others whose nations did not feature at the AFCON showcase.

ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa

ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa

The Harare businessman has even demanded an apology from Hayatou, in a show of bravery rarely seen in the trenches of African football where the Cameroonian strongman has ruled with an iron fist, saying the CAF president was wrong to suggest he was organising a rebellion to destabilise the organisation.

There had been fears that the politics will blow Infantino from visiting Zimbabwe but the youthful FIFA boss, who is now celebrating a year as the head of world football, has refused to be sucked into the political battles.

Instead, he has confirmed, in a personal letter to Chiyangwa, that he will make the trip to Harare after visiting South Africa next week.

“I would like to thank you for your letter dated January 8, 2017, and for your kind invitation to visit your country this month,” Infantino wrote in his letter.

“I am very pleased to confirm my visit.

“This will take place in connection with my trip to South Africa for the FIFA Executive Summit in Johannesburg which will take place from 21 to 23 February 2017.

“I will be arriving in Harare on Thursday 23 January 2017 at around 1800 and leaving on Friday 24 February 2017 at 1800(the flight details and the FIFA delegation will be communicated in due course).

“I have no doubt that this visit will help us to lay the foundations for further fruitful co-operation and share our personal visions for the continued development of our sport in your country.

“I wish you every success in your upcoming endeavour and look forward to seeing you very soon in Harare.”

The revelation that Chiyangwa invited Infantino to visit Zimbabwe on January 8, long before COSAFA met and agreed to throw their full support behind Ahmad, which then gave the Harare businessman the green-light to be the campaign manager of the Madagascar official, quashes suggestions from Hayatou that this is all part of the politics to topple him from his seat.

Infantino was in Qatar yesterday and he is reported to have dismissed any suggestions of a rift between him and Hayatou, but maintained that he supports the democratic process for elections among the FIFA constituencies.

A Nigerian blogger, Metropolitan Preye, tweeted Infantino’s position.

“FIFA president Gianni Infantino dismisses talk of a rift with CAF boss hayatou, says he supports democratic process for new election.”

Chiyangwa has been inviting a number of African football leaders to come to Harare next week.

“It is with utmost pleasure that I write to you to invite you, in my personal capacity, to celebrate and to mark my victory as COSAFA president and my belated birthday as I was born on the 3rd of February,” reads Chiyangwa’s invitation letter to the African football leaders.

“The celebrations will be held on the 24th of February 2017 in Harare, Zimbabwe. The FIFA president, president Infantino, will grace the occasion as the guest of honour.

“It is my hope that you will find time in your busy schedule to attend these very important and historic celebrations.”

Infantino’s decision to come to Harare will further irk the Hayatou camp who have been panicking amid revelations they now believe they have a tough battle to hang on to the leadership of African football.

The Cameroonian strongman is the last man standing, among the group the game’s old leaders, in the wake of the changes that have emerged after the tsunami that swept away former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter and a lot of his inner circle.

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  • Profmununhema

    Issa Hayatou’s quest for holding on to leadership in a dictatorship will be dismissed with all contempt is deserves. He should be ashamed that since his tenure as a CAF boss, no African country has reached semifinal at World cup. We need new blood and we are tired of him. Now that the FIFA president is visiting, will he charge him with contempt. The time for end is near Mr Hayatou.

  • Mafia

    I am a ardent follower/ and fan of Chiyangwa’s “mafia” approaches. He can’t stop at anything on his way to achievement. Bravo camarada on bringing down Sir Infantino. That long serving Hayatou should fall down and anyway what can stop you from getting tips from the god of world football on how to run successful campaign on behalf of Ahmad. Forge ahead and as usual don’t be stopped by barking dogs.

  • when

    Chiyangwa is the right man for the Zifa job even though many didnt believe so, even me. Please Chiyangwa change this CAF nonsense. These CAF guys have always been bullying the Southern African countries for a long time. How many times have the African Cup of Nations been hosted this side of Africa? They always host it there west, north or east Africa. Wouldnt it be nice if it can also be hosted by Malawi, Zambia, Angola, DRC, Namibia, SA, Zim etc. Even the rich South Africa is viewed to be incompetent to host the Cup yet it managed to host the World Cup. There is need for change in CAF – Phidza tell that to the FIFA president.

    • wasu

      lets fight them guys Hayatou is not Aftican football God

  • Luther De Larey

    Brave Chiyangwa. That’s the leadership we need!

  • Kennychisal

    Well done big Phil – you are on track . It clear CAf president is on his way out by this gathering paving way for a younger and fresh blood.He has been sleeping so much behind the steering.

  • Tonderayi Chanakira

    A new wave embracing a young leadership for change in the way soccer should be managed as a business is now taking root in world football politics. There is need to change the CAF leadership and I salute Philip Chiyangwa for taking the bull by its horns. Issa Hayatou the current CAF leader must now take a rest from leading CAF. Nguva yakwana Mr Issa Hayatou! Zimbabwe has a flamboyant ZIFA leader in PHIDZA who is so daring to see that happen. Good score Bla Phidza mune zvivindi.

  • MakhosiXamu

    Your brains are the ones in double tragedy, shame.

  • MakhosiXamu

    Politics and more polkitics