Ahmed Yahya has become the fourth candidate to announce his candidacy for the Confederation of African Football (Caf) presidential elections in March.
The head of the Mauritanian federation (FFRIM) since 2011, Yahya was named the continent’s best football administrator at the 2017 Caf awards.
“After much thoughts and discussions, I have decided to present my candidacy,” Yahya announced
on social media on Monday evening, adding the hashtags ‘commitment, determination, vision’.
Thursday is the deadline for candidates to apply, with Senegal’s Augustin Senghor also expected to throw his hat into the ring before then.
Caf president Ahmad (Madagascar), former Fifa Executive Committee Jacques Anouma (Ivory Coast) and Mamelodi Sundowns president Patrice Motsepe (South Africa) have all had their candidacies announced so far.
Under Yahya, who was re-elected for a third term in office last year with a landslide victory, Mauritania achieved a maiden qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations in November 2018 when beating Botswana.
For their achievement, they were named Caf’s Team of the Year for 2018 and a year later, at their debut finals in Egypt, Mauritania failed to exit their group but earned draws against both Angola and Tunisia.
Yahya, a member of Caf’s Executive Committee member, has also been praised by Fifa for his role in developing both football and its infrastructure in his homeland.
“The FFRIM is a great example of a successful and progressive member association and, in fact, I often refer to it in my speeches and encourage people to visit Mauritania to see for themselves,” Fifa president Gianni Infantino said.
In 1999, Yahya founded FC Nouadhibou – a club he presided over until 2004 – who have won six national titles and two cups since.
The CAF presidential race has so far attracted 4 aspirants among them: South African Patrice Motsepe, one of Africa’s richest men and chairman of Mamelodi Sundowns , incumbent Ahmad Ahmad and Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast.
Caf’s presidential elections are scheduled to take place in Morocco on 12 March.
Ahmad Ahmad’s Woes
Reigning president Ahmad, meanwhile, submitted his candidacy in October but his ability to contest March’s elections is in doubt given he is set to face a ban from football after being found to have breached various Fifa’s ethic codes.
Ahmad stood for the presidency then on a platform promising administrative reform, financial transparency and a potential competitions reorganisation.
However all of this was soon relegated to the shadows by a damning report about the realities submitted to FIFA in 2019 by Amr Fahmy, then the CAF secretary-general.
Fahmy claimed he had been ordered by Ahmad to pay $20,000 in bribes into accounts of African FA presidents and that CAF had incurred $830,000 in costs by axing an equipment contract with Puma in favour of a little-known French intermediary named Tactical Steel.
The report also accused Ahmad of harassing four female members of the CAF staff, amending statutes to increase Moroccan representation within the organisation and over-spending more than $400,000 of CAF money on cars in Egypt and Madagascar, where Ahmad had created a local office for himself.
Ahmad denied all the accusations; Fahmy was sacked.
The following June, also in 2019, Ahmad, one of FIFA’s seven vice-presidents, was detained for 12 hours for questioning by French police while in Paris attending FIFA Congress. No charges were brought.
Two weeks later FIFA dispatched its Senegalese secretary-general Fatma Samoura to effectively take over the running of CAF for six months.
Samoura seized control of various broadcast rights negotiations despite anger among local football bosses who resented the imposition of a woman over their heads.
Samoura’s mission was brought to an end by FIFA president Gianni Infantino – originally a supporter of Ahmad – early this year.