Why Hayatou Snubbed Infantino’s Visit
Fresh speculation has emerged as to why long-serving African football chief Issa Hayatou stayed away from FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s recent visit to Nigeria, his first to an African nation since succeeding Sepp Blatter.
African reports claim Hayatou boycotted the high-profile courtesy trip because of an plot spearheaded by Nigerian football boss Amaju Pinnick and allegedly supported by Infantino to dislodge the veteran Cameroon powerbroker as president of the Confederation of African Football.
While the reports of a leadership crisis cannot be independently verified, Hayatou has made no comment as to why, as head of his region, he did not show up in Abuja where Infantino reportedly met with up to 17 African national federation presidents. Interestingly, CAF’s media department took the unusual step of failing to issue any statement trumpeting Infantino’s visit.
It is common knowledge that Hayatou, who ran FIFA on an interim basis as the organisation’s most senior official in the weeks and months following Blatter’s premature exit, adopted a somewhat cool approach to Infantino winning the presidential election last February. In the build-up to the vote, CAF’s top brass formally endorsed the candidacy of Asian confederation Shaikh Salman of Bahrain who ultimately lost in a run-off with Infantino.