Issa Hayatou: All You Should Know About CAF Longest Serving President

Issa Hayatou who is the longest-serving president of the Confederation of African Football, CAF, was first elected in 1988. Having served in that capacity for over two decades, he is seeking an eighth consecutive term as head of African football.

He is a Cameroonian former athlete and sports executive. In 2002, he ran for president of FIFA but was defeated by Seep Blatter. Hayatou served as acting FIFA president when the previous president, Blatter, was banned from all football-related activities in 2015 as a part of the FIFA corruption investigation of 2015.

He held the fort until 26 February 2016, when Gianni Infantino took over as FIFA President. He is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and has achieved so much more to his credit.

Things To Know About Issa Hayatou


Issa Hayatou was born 9 August 1946, in Garoua, Cameroon, as a son of a local Sultan. The Hayatou family are traditional holders of the sultanate (Lamidat, from the Sokoto Caliphate’s traditional Fula title Lamine) of Garoua.

Hayatou was the son of the reigning sultan and has many relatives who have acceded to powerful positions in Cameroonian society. His brother Sadou Hayatou, a former Prime Minister of Cameroon was also a one-time high official under president Paul Biya’s administration.


Issa Hayatou who studied Physical and Health Education at the University of Yaounde Cameroon was a middle distance runner and physical education teacher.

He had a successful career as an athlete before becoming a member of the Cameroonian national squads in both Basketball and Athletics and holding national record in the 400 and 800-meter runs.

In 1974 at the age of 28, Issa became the Secretary General of the Cameroon Football Association and Chairperson of the Football Association in 1986. As chairperson, he was chosen the same year to sit on the CAF Executive Committee.

Following the retirement of Ethiopia’s Ydnekatchew Tessema as CAF president in August 1987, Hayatou was elected to replace him as the fifth president in the body’s history and has retained the position till date.

In 2002, he ran for president of FIFA but was defeated by Seep Blatter. Hayatou served as acting FIFA president when Blatter, was banned from all football-related activities in 2015. He held the fort until Gianni Infantino emerged president.

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Issa Hayatou and Seep Blatter

Achievements As CAF President

As President of CAF for over two decades, Issa Hayatou has achieved quite a lot. He has particularly overseen successful FIFA World Cup appearances by Senegal, Nigeria, and Cameroon, and pushed for Africa’s interests in world football.

Issa Hayatou presided over both the bid and the organizing committee for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa – the first in Africa. He saw to it that the African Cup of Nations finals expanded from 8 to 16 teams, in a confederation of over 50 nations in six zones and five regional confederations.

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Under his watch also, club competitions have undergone a similar growth in both numbers and scale, with more clubs participating in the African Cup of Champions Clubs, the CAF Confederation Cup (begun in 2004 for national cup winners and high-placed league teams), the CAF Cup, and the CAF Super Cup.

There has also been an expansion beyond men’s football with the CAF overseeing Youth, Women’s, Fustal, and Beach soccer competitions.

Corruption Allegations

In November 2010, BBC presenter of FIFA’s Dirty Secrets, Andrew Jennings, alleged that Hayatou had taken bribes in the 1990s regarding the awarding of contracts for the sale of television rights to the football World Cup.

It was also claimed that a document obtained from a company called ISL showed that Hayatou was paid 100,000 French Francs by the company. ISL was the company that won the contract to distribute the television rights. Hayatou has denied the allegations specifying that he didn’t receive the money. According to him, the money in question went to CAF. Nonetheless, the IOC announced that it will investigate Hayatou as he is a member of the organisation.

That’s not all, in May 2011, The Sunday Times published claims from a whistle-blower. As found, it was claimed that Issa Hayatou had, along with fellow Executive Committee member Jacques Anouma, accepted $1.5 million bribes from Qatar to secure his support for their bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It is expected that this claim would be thoroughly investigated.


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