Long-simmering tension within the South African Football Association (Safa) camp finally exploded into the open in faraway Khartoum this week, with allegations flying that Danny Jordaan’s crushing defeat in the elections for a seat on the Fifa executive committee was engineered by his own compatriot.
Algeria’s Mohamed Raouraoua garnered 39 votes, Côte d’Ivoire’s Jacques Anouma walked away with 34, and Seychelles’ Suketu Patel, who is also president of the Council of Southern African Football Associations, polled 12, Jordaan secured 10 and Nigeria’s Mohamed Galadima collected five votes at the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF’s) 33rd congress in Sudan.
South Africa’s Molefi Oliphant, who is also second vice-president of CAF, has been fingered as the man who waged a vicious campaign to ensure Jordaan failed, allegedly because he was betrayed by Safa, which “nominated Jordaan to contest the elections while he was available”.
“I am not disappointed,” said Jordaan. “In fact, I am greatly excited and encouraged by the response I have received here. A lot of work still needs to be done to provide the process that will help us to do things that are important for African football. There are lots of challenges, but I will continue to work towards the improvement and development of African football. I am neither bitter nor disappointed. When you enter a race, there are two possibilities: you either win or lose.”
Delegates from 11 different football federations in Khartoum acknowledged that Jordaan had done exceptional work in delivering one of the best Fifa World Cups and the first on African soil, but they were also disturbed by allegations from Oliphant that he had “been betrayed by his own federation and virtually stabbed in the back by his own brothers”.
“The fact is that CAF’s first vice-president, Seyi Memeni, is retiring at this congress,” said a delegate from Burundi. “It goes without saying that Oliphant would be co-opted by CAF president Issa Hayatou as the organisation’s first vice-president and nominating Jordaan did not sit down well with Oliphant. Why is there so much division in the South African camp?”
When approached to deny or confirm widespread rumours in Khartoum that he worked against his own people, Oliphant replied that it was an unfair question that should rather be directed to the delegates from the CAF who cast their ballots, as they would be in a position to confirm whether he ran the campaign or not.
Asked about claims that he had accused his own federation of betrayal, he said: “Well, the Safa executive in their own wisdom nominated Danny Jordaan as their candidate and therefore should have seen to it that their candidate was elected.
“Mind you, being nominated does not necessarily mean you will win an election.” Oliphant stepped down as Safa president in 2009 before the Fifa World Cup, claiming he was retiring and not even Fifa president Sepp Blatter could persuade him to change his decision. However, he retained his position as CAF’s second vice-president with Seyi Memeni as the first vice-president under Hayatou.
Raouraoua’s victory means that the North African region, which constitutes only five countries, now has two men sitting on the Fifa executive, the other being Egypt’s Hany Abo Rida. West Africa has Anouma, who was re-elected, and Central Africa is represented by Cameroonian Issa Hayatou, whereas sub-Saharan Africa, the biggest bloc on the continent, has no representation.
“It is something that we have to address as a continent and try to institute constitutional amendments for representation,” said Jordaan. “At the moment, it is just a free-fall. The skewed allocation of representatives is not healthy.”
Oliphant said it was not the first time two representatives from the same region entered the Fifa race. “It happened to me and Ismael Bhamjee back in 2002 and we both lost,” he said. Similarly, West Africa entered two candidates and both won.
“My view going forward is that there is strength in unity. Also, we either learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools,” said Oliphant.
Kalusha Bwalya of Zambia also won a southern region seat on the CAF executive, with 34 votes, beating Walter Nyamilandu of Malawi (six), John Muinjo from Namibia (five) and Adam Mathethwa of Swaziland (four).
Kwesi Nyantakyi of Ghana garnered 34 votes to beat Anjorin Moucharafou from Benin to win the West African B seat on CAF as well as Leodegar Tenga of Tanzania, who also garnered 34 votes to comprehensively defeat Celestin Musambyimana of Rwanda for CAF’s central east zone seat.