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Cameroon Nations Cup Stripping – A Get Back at Issa Hayatou?

If the recent events regarding the AFCON 2019 hosts were an intended get back at Cameroon and Hayatou, then Ahmad has had the last laugh.

Cameroon winning hosting rights of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations was greeted with murmurings. Four years on, the same murmurings were heard, this time, not that they were going to be hosts but rather stripped of the honor.

The latter happened in the confines of an executive meeting in Accra –Ghana’s capital –at a congregation of the Confederation of African Football executives.

One can but only imagine the disappointment etched on the faces of Cameroon’s officials who jetted from Yaoundé to attend what they knew was going to be a make or break meeting.

Soon the news began making the rounds and it was, understandably, felt hardest by the Central African nation’s government and FA who’ve laced together to ensure this plan see the light of day in spite of the pockets of skepticisms.

The reason for stripping off Cameroon of the honor – CAF wasn’t convinced of the level of preparedness.

The work, in the continental’s sport governing body’s view, shot way below hosting requirements. Security is another subject the organization considered in its decision. Cameroon’s north and south are beset by ongoing unrest with Separatists and Boko Haram being two matters CAF doesn’t want its prestigious tournament exposed to.

The withdrawal represents unwelcome news to Biya’s leadership and an end of the road to reigning champions the Indomitable Lions’ “Our land Our Cup” crusade.

Billions of money have been pumped in the preparations, most of it borrowed. Businesses, transports, hotels, and tourism will be unavoidably plunged in trying times and faced with lingering questions of how to recover costs made in constructions and renovations.

This blip was not foreseen four years ago when Cameroon beat off competitions from Zambia, Algeria, and Guinea to secure the hosting rights in the September of 2014 before an 18-man member CAF executive committee in faraway Addis Ababa.

In that meeting, Issa Hayatou grinned with a paper ballot, in it, written Cameroon for 2019, held on ends as he announced winning countries awarded rights to host the AFCON from 2019-2023.

It never occurred, at the time, to the five-time Africa Cup of Nations holders that they had won right to stage a tournament they will never watch kick off in Yaoundé.

It was smooth-sailing before then as Issa Hayatou’s Cameroon set about with preparation for the 2019 continental event.

Reports have it that scenes unfolded in the run-up to the 2014 bidding triggered by politics with Biya’s government “at the helm” and Hayatou “the man to execute the plan.”

The year was 2013. Then 80-year-old sitting president Paul was campaigning for a renewed mandate he would win in October 2018. Aware of his declining reputation tainted by allegations of human rights abuses, Biya, it is believed, needed some juicy news to restore a tattered image as he sought a renewed term from a population increasingly distasteful of his iron-fist leadership style.

The sport has the uncanny ability to instill bonding where hate reigns and the incumbent felt getting the Africa Cup of Nations staged in Cameroon will be perfect notch to his grand plan.

As the Cameroon National Times coins it, “AFCON became the target” and Hayatou “the gateway.” The pair have striking resemblance; from style of management fuelled by an insatiable taste for influence to the craft of prolonged stay in power.

Little wonder then that eyebrows were raised after Cameroon got declared the winner of the hosting rights for AFCON 2019.

Accused of setting up a corrupt authoritarian rule at CAF, there had been zero meaningful threat to the former football boss’s reign until March of 2017. Sixty-two days to that, Issa had stripped Madagascar right to stage the U-17 African Championship.

No official reason was advanced explaining the withdrawal. However, reports suggest the 72-year-old was given a tip-off regarding Ahmad Ahmad’s growing popularity and secret intentions to challenge him for Africa’s hot potato football job.

The erstwhile FIFA vice-president had hoped threatening to deny Madagascar the youth tournament they were already billed to host will force Malagasy football delegates to turn the heat on Ahmad to force him to rescind his decision of rivaling Issa for CAF.

To Hayatou and his circle’s utter shock, the 58-year-old politician wasn’t dissuaded and went about his campaign undeterred.

This set the motion buttons with the battle lines drawn as the Cameroonian –for the first time – saw a threat to a portfolio he’d overseen for over two decades with relative ease.

The former football coach ended up upstaging Hayatou with a difference of 14 votes, signaling the end of an era.

With Ahmad now calling the shots as African football top dog, the pair has been at loggerheads since Issa took his feet off the pedal amid claims and counterclaims.

The duo, it is widely said, are not on talking terms and Cameroon, by virtue of being 2019 hosts have come under immense focus.

When CAF sent its inspection delegation, it’s said that Ahmed wanted to revenge his predecessor’s use of force to strip Madagascar of what they believed they rightfully won –the Africa U-17 tourney –by also denying Cameroon the rights to hosting the games-a thing he managed to do in recent days.

The difference here is, Ahmad has valid reasons to back up his move –citing the unrest in Cameroon’s South and North and poor preparation – even if he had an underlining intention to get back at Hayatou and the Cameroonian government.

Cameroon has spent astronomical sums building stadiums that won’t host next year’s international event, a thing, analysts say, is enough to trigger a recession.

According to our findings, the Paul Biya Stadium situated in the outskirts of the capital is being built at the tune of 163 billion CFA with 139 billion borrowed from Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo and 24.5 billion CFA from the United Bank of Africa. The loans are to be paid in seven years with an interest of 6 percent. A similar sum is forked out to erect the Douala Japoma Stadium with 24 billion CFA being from the state of Cameroon and 136 billion from Turkey’s Eximbank only on stadia against the 2019 Nations Cup tournament.

If these events were an intended get back at Cameroon and Hayatou, then Ahmad has had the last laugh.

Additionally, Issa is also considering fighting a 24 million euros court fine imposed on him in Egypt regarding his brokering of a multi-billion Tv rights with French company Lagardere.

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