Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Issa Hayatou, who is gunning for the Fifa presidency, expressed disappointment Sunday at the lack of support from leading continental soccer players.
« To be frank I cannot say I’m pleased with that, for them to choose someone instead of an African but it is their democratic right, » said Hayatou, speaking in Johannesburg, where he is here to campaign.
Ghanaian legend Abedi Pele and Liberian star George Weah had both publicly stated that they supported the current Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who is running for a second term and not Hayatou.
The duo said Blatter had done more for Africa than the Cameroon-born president.
Hayatou, who is in South Africa to attend the MTN Caf awards to be held on Tuesday said there were some African and European players who wanted to support him but he told them not to.
« What matters are the people who will be voting, I’m not so sure of the support but I am confident of the word of my friends in both African and European federations who had said I should go ahead for the elections.
« I took time before deciding to run for the presidency, spoke to my friends in Africa, Europe and outside Europe and they asked me to present myself as a candidate. The support is very important because you can’t do it alone. »
Hayatou dismissed suggestions that Africa might be behind Blatter because of the promise that the 2010 World Cup will be hosted by the continent.
« It’s not Blatter who will bring the World Cup but the whole Fifa executive, I will bring the World Cup to Africa in 2010 and all the Fifa projects which are in place, including GOAL (project helping previously disadvantaged areas in the Southern African region), will continue.
« It’s time for Africa to be at the top Fifa structures, we have done a lot of work in Africa and this is an opportunity to take this to another level. »
Hayatou will also meet all the presidents of the African federations on Monday to discuss the elections which will be held on May 29.