Returning from Zurich via Paris, the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Issa Hayatou landed at Yaoundé, Cameroon in the evening hours of Monday June 1, 2015. Stepping out of the plane, he granted an interview to CRTV and Cameroon Tribune, which are local media organs. The Senior Vice-President of FIFA spoke on how the world football governing body’s congress went on and reveals for the first time the circumstances that surrounded the sessions.
Interviewer: A certain chronicle heralds that you are forbidden to leave Swiss territory. How did you manage your way through?
Issa Hayatou: I heard the news this morning (the same Monday). I was already in Paris when I was told that RFI has declared that I have been grounded in Switzerland, that I did not have to leave. Needless to say that since Wednesday May 27, when the Swiss police landed in our hotel, I was not bothered by whosoever. Neither by political authorities, nor by judicial authorities, nor the Swiss police. I completed the programme I had before leaving from here and I am still following it. No one said anything to me, or contacted me for interrogations. But to my surprise, I heard that I was forbidden to leave Swiss territory because the police picked me up and had statements from me for nine hours. Nobody got a statement from me.
I: We are told that you are capable of providing information on the corruption network in FIFA.
IH: If someone is corrupt, would he come and tell me, so I should disclose him? Those are frame-ups. That means I am also corrupt. Whatever the case I am not surprised. For 20 year now I have been accused, especially by the Cameroonian and English press. They are the two media organs that say things about me. But that is nothing. It is just the way life is.
I: How is FIFA after the congress? Is it a sufficiently unified FIFA, or one that is torn apart?
IH: To say she is intact is a little fake. For, when they come at 6am and arrest 10 from among us, who were in their rooms, sleeping, with all the media hype that followed, we cannot say FIFA is not shaken. But she is united. The proof is, at the congress, which went on well, we elected our president. Every required formality for the congress was observed and nothing went wrong except, the fact that some people came from the United States to arrest Americans, meanwhile they could have been arrested on the American continent. There is something that surprises everyone. Why not arrest them on the American continent given that they came from there? There is a reason.
I: Why does Africa support President Blatter so much?
IH: There were only two candidates. We think that Mr Blatter, considering his experience, fulfills the criteria. Concerning the other candidate, it is true that we say to those of noble birth, valour is no function of years. He is 39 years old; he does not have mastery of the house. But what made us to support Sepp Blatter, is that he has truly helped the African continent. By allocating this 2010 World Cup, by the various training courses he organised, by the various sporting facilities constructed. All of this rallied the continent to support his cause. There is nothing more, contrary to what is believed. The money FIFA gives to national associations is the same for every association, including the very rich like Germany. I am President of the finance committee, as well as of the development committee. It is at the level of my committee that it all happens. The sharing is equitable. All federations across the world, big or small, have the same amount. This is what vexes them. They believe that more money should be given to the major federations. And Africa is very much aware of this situation. She sees her football and infrastructures develop. Consequently we support Mr Blatter, contrary to what is said.
I: What happened that the Jordanian candidate withdrew?
IH: There was a 60-vote difference during the first round. From that moment he understood what was going to happen. If he stayed on, he would not have had the 73 votes of the first round. Voters would have logically turned toward the winner. There were some discussions with his supporters and he took the microphone to say he withdraws his candidature. We think it is a well-calculated and just decision.
I: On another issue, would the postponement that Cameroon succeeded to obtain for the organisation of the Feminine AFCON be sufficient for the country to get set?
IH: We accepted what Cameroon required from us. I have heard that some media organs here are criticising because it was refused to Morocco. How can we compare the grand African Cup of Nations on which CAF depends at 95% to the feminine cup, which does not even have sponsors? Cameroon came with valid reasons to tell us that there is rainfall in the areas where the selected stadia are. And the Executive Committee, which was 100% present, even when I did not preside over because it concerned my country, accepted. The Under-17, Under-20, and the feminine cup should not be mistaken for the grand AFCON. A postponement of the grand AFCON can never be accepted. Even so, the Moroccans requested for a postponement of more than a year and Africa felt hurt. Because by asking us to postpone, they agreed to organise the FIFA Club World Championship scheduled one month away from AFCON. There is no comparison between AFCON and the feminine cup, which we will organise here in Cameroon.