Egyptian Football Association President Hany Abo-Rida has said that Egypt proved its weight in the continent by influencing the vote that toppled long-reigning Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Issa Hayatou on Thursday.
"The most important thing for us is that we showed that Egypt is a major power in Africa; we still have claws. I want to thank the government for the support they gave us during our work," Abo-Rida told Egyptian satellite channel ON Sport Thursday night.
Earlier on Thursday, Ahmad of Madagascar was voted in as the new CAF president, ending the 29-year reign of Issa Hayatou in an election in the Ethiopian capital.
Egypt has been supportive of Ahmed and it is believed the country led a coalition to down veteran Hayatou.
"I want to thank Hayatou for the past 30 years and his efforts during that period. He was able to develop football [to a point that] placed the continent in a good position. I was hoping he would exit from the front door, but the defeat today was very difficult," Abo-Rida added.
Hayatou lost to Ahmad by a 34-20 vote that was described by some media outlets as an earthquake in the continent.
"I was sad for him because I knew him for many years, but the country's interest and our interest were on the line. There is a new generation now and a new head of the federation, who has more developed plans; I wish Ahmad the best and that God be with him," he said.
Abo-Rida was a close ally of Hayatou for over a decade. The two had a falling out recently, however, after the Egypt Competitions Authority accused them of breaching anti-monopoly regulations over a marketing and television rights deal and referred them to criminal prosecution.
It is believed that Hayatou has also been trying to lobby for the defeat of Abou-Rida in elections for a position in the FIFA Council.
"The [FIFA Council] vote has been delayed until May. I feel comfortable about it and we have time to make a new strategy," Abo-Rida concluded.
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