Sexwale: I am a democrat

Tokyo Sexwale (Muntu Vilakazi, City Press)
Tokyo Sexwale (Muntu Vilakazi, City Press)

Cape Town - Tokyo Sexwale has revealed that he will still run for football’s top job despite failing to get backing from CAF on Friday at an executive committee meeting in Kigali.

Sexwale said that CAF asked him to withdraw from the FIFA presidential race in the lead up to the Excom meeting but he wrote to them on Friday morning indicating that he did not want their recommendation anyway.

In a press release on Friday, CAF wrote: “The CAF Executive Committee, during its meeting, also noted the withdrawal of Mr. Tokyo Sexwale from the race for FIFA presidency in order to support the interests and unity of African football.”

However, Sexwale denied this move saying and confirmed “The elections of the FIFA president are on the 26th of this month and I am a candidate. It goes ahead because I got backing from my own association from South Africa.”

“Today’s exercise was a CAF exercise. There are no elections here in Kigali today. What we have seen in Kigali is the assembly of the CAF executive committee.”

“They were here to do one thing in respect of the elections, that thing is to make a recommendation about which candidate they would like to nominate so no candidate has been elected today. I want to congratulate Sheikh Salman of the CAF executive committee.”

CAF announced on Friday that they will back Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa of Bahrain.

“While respecting the principle of democracy, the sovereignty, and latitude of each member association to vote for the candidate of its choice, the Executive Committee urges all the 54 member associations of the Confédération Africaine de Football to reserve their votes for Shaikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa during the February 26 elections for the presidency of FIFA in Zurich,” read a statement from CAF on Friday.

Sexwale mentioned that he was not disappointed with CAF’s decision. He said, “It is not about emotional feelings of happiness or disappointment. It is a fact of a few or thousands or millions of people voting. It is a democratic decision.”

“There are no issues of disappointment so the process is on. We are excited because it is a global process. It is not a Kigali process or Rwanda or South African or African, it is a global process. It is FIFA. It is an international process.”

Sexwale believes that he has the backing of several federations in Africa and beyond and is confident about his chances of becoming the next FIFA president come February 26 in Zurich.

“There are 54 associations on this continent, many of which will make their own choices. I am a democrat. We all ought to be and those associations have got every reason to make their own decision because associations are not sent to Kigali to Johannesburg or to Cairo. Associations are sent to Zurich. That is where it happens,” he said.

CAF president Issa Hayatou had earlier told the media that, “If we decide to support Salman, is it a crime? Who can prevent us from doing this?”

CAF’s decision is not a surprise as they signed a memorandum of understanding with the Asian Football Confederation last month in Kigali.

Italian Gianni Infantino and former FIFA deputy secretary general Jerome Champagne are also in Kigali to campaign to African FA representatives who attended the meeting on Friday.

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