Keir RadnedgeJacques Anouma has not yet lost all hope of winning his fight with Issa Hayatou within the upper echelons of the African Football Confederation – but the latest ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport has raised the stakes in his race against time.

The Ivory Coast football federation wants to propose Anouma, a member of the FIFA executive, for the CAF presidency held since 1987 by Cameroonian IOC member Hayatou.

The election – or acclamation – of a new or old president is scheduled for congress in Marrakech, Morocco, on March 10.

Anouma, however, no longer qualifies to stand after a change of the CAF statutes was voted through by an overwhelming majority at a special congress last September. The change means only members of the CAF executive can stand for the presidency.

The Ivorian does attend CAF executive committee meetings but ‘only’ with observer status because of his role as an African member of the FIFA executive. Hence he does not count as a CAF executive member under the terms of the revised statutes.

Anouma, a 58-year-old accountant, has criticised the manoeuvre by supporters of Hayatou – notably Algerian federation president Mohamed Raouraoua – as “scandalous.” Ivory Coast sports minister Philippe Legre described the amendment as a “political ruse” while Senegal FA president August Senghor considered it “a setback for democracy.”

CAS has decided, in ruling on a third challenge on Anouma’s behalf, not to issue what would be an effective temporary restraining order against the confederation because the case had been brought by Anouma and not by his federation: CAF statutes insist that a presidential candidate must only be proposed by federation.

Hence any complaint against process must also be raised by a federation.

CAS has, however, has left open the door for a full hearing of the issue – as long as the Ivorien federation associates itself with Anouma’s complaint.

Initially action on Anouma’s behalf was taken at CAS by the Liberian federation. Earlier complaints were dismissed by CAS last December because the court ruled that the full confederation appeals process had not yet been exhausted.

The Liberian federation had rushed to CAS in a vain attempt to beat the December 3 deadline by which the statutes change was deemed to have become effective.

The Cameroonian, who is bidding for a new term that will keep him in power until 2017, has been in charge of African football’s ruling body since 1987. His opponents fear that the course of CAS law will run too slowly for a full hearing to be staged within the next six weeks.

A CAS statement after Anouma’s latest rebuff said: “Only national associations have the power to propose candidates for the presidential election. In this case, the Ivory Coast Football Federation did not challenge CAF’s decision and has not filed an appeal to CAS to support the position of Mr Anouma.”

By Keir Radnedge

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