Mongono (Equatorial Guinea) – Kwesi Nyantakyi, President of the Ghana Football Association, on Tuesday said African countries would vote overwhelmingly for Sepp Blatter in this year’s FIFA elections.
Blatter faces four challengers in his bid for re-election on May 29, when he seeks a fifth term as FIFA President which will take him past his 80th birthday.
Nyantakyi said at Mongono in Equatorial Guinea that Africa was solidly behind Blatter.
“You will find (that) he is very popular on the continent.
“He has done a lot for the continent. It is he who has set up the Financial Assistance Programme (FAP) and who through the Goal Project has built infrastructure in all of the countries,” he added.
Nyantakyi however said the European members of FIFA do not understand this, and have instead argued that it was not Blatter’s money but that of FIFA he was using.
“But that’s not the point. It is Blatter that set up all the assistance programmes that have helped boost African football,’’ the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Executive Committee member said.
“FIFA Goal Project is Blatter’s pet project, inaugurated not long after he came to power in 1998, and it has built training centres, accommodation, pitches and offices for cash-strapped associations,’’ he added.
Nyantakyi recalled that each of the ruling body’s 209 member-associations receive generous grants with more than one billion dollars paid out during Blatter’s tenure.
“This is under FIFA’s FAP, introduced in 2001,’’ he said.
Molefi Oliphant, à former President of South African Football Association (SAFA) and CAF Executive, said Blatter’s prospective opponents are likely to get little support from the 53 African voters.
“The continent is united behind him (Blatter),” he said.
“We have made a formal endorsement of his candidacy last year at our meeting in Rio de Janeiro already,’’ Oliphant added.
Oliphant said the affection for Blatter stems from the generous financial assistance he has given Africa during his 17-year tenure.
Meanwhile, Michael van-Praag, the President, Dutch Football Association (KNVB), has also announced his intention to run for the office.
This was as a result of similar moves by former FIFA Deputy Secretary General Jerome Champagne and Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan.
Former France international David Ginola was also standing in what was widely regarded as being a publicity stunt.(Reuters/NAN)