ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa has lashed out at his Guinea-Bissau compatriot Opes Nascimento for his criticism of FIFA boss Gianni Infantino in what is clearly part of the boardroom battles for the control of the game on the continent.
Nascimento, who was honoured by CAF president Issa Hayatou as the best football leader on the continent last year, accused Infantino of allegedly dividing Africa.
“We have the elections for the Confederation of African Football coming in March 16th and can you imagine a whole FIFA President is meeting people separately because he wants a change in Africa,” said Manuel, who is in Hayatou’s camp.
Madagascar’s Football Federation President, Ahmad Ahmad, will battle Hayatou for the CAF presidency.
“He has no capacity to lead CAF well enough because he lacks what it takes,” said Nascimento.
But Chiyangwa has come out guns blazing.
“I listened to an interview granted by Mr Nascimento, president of Guinea-Bissau Football Association where he threw decorum, caution and dignity into the air by not only casting aspersions but directly throwing tantrums on the personality of the symbol of global football, Mr Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA,” Chiyangwa, who is also the COSAFA president, said.
“Mr Nascimento went further by traducing his colleagues by calling them’traitors’ or ‘puppets’.
“His action is not only regrettable but out-rightly condemnable.
Indeed, the majority of the presidents of the various federations in Africa hold a radically contrary view and I’m constrained to respond on their behalf.
“The general opinion is that the coming in of Mr Infantino as president of FIFA has not only brought greater respect, recognition and acceptability to the continent of Africa by the appointment of a black lady, Mrs Fatima Samoura, from the heart of Africa, Senegal, as General Secretary of FIFA, a first in many aspects but has been consistent with his programmes and reforms geared towards enhancing the game of football globally.
“We are indeed very proud of him and will continue to pledge our unflinching support and loyalty.
Mr Infantino has raised annual FA support to US$5 million to each Football Association, an astronomical leap, and has brought huge relief to many FAs in CAF compared to all his predecessors.
“He has brought reforms and transparency in the management of FIFA affairs.
Furthermore, he has brought in new blood, allowed for diversity, gender balance, open to fresh ideas and supports innovation.
“Do you have a recollection of who else has ever done better?”
Chiyangwa accused Nascimento of having a short memory.
Mr Nascimento should realise that football is governed by laws on and off the field of play and his unguarded and treacherous utterances can have dire consequences.
“Mr Nascimento should also realise that his conduct does not represent the award of the most outstanding FA President accorded to him at the last Glo CF awards or can we say there was an undertone to this award?”
He boardroom battles for the control of African football have split the continent.
The Madagascar football leader, who is challenging Hayatou, has already been punished by CAF with the continent’s football leadership withdrawing the island’s rights from hosting a youth tournament this year.
Hayatou uses the tournaments as his power pawns, rewarding those who support his cause, and that has helped him to remain in power since 1998. The Herald