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banner Saturday, 16 March, 2002, 19:00 GMT
Hayatou: Champion of Africa
BBC Sport Online's African football correspondent Mark Gleeson profiles Cameroon's Issa Hayatou, who is to challenge Sepp Blatter for the Fifa presidency.

Cameroon's Issa Hayatou has put an end to speculation by announcing that he will stand against Sepp Blatter for the Fifa presidency.

With a reputation as a cagey, clever sports politician, the Caf president will have made sure he is in with a real chance of assuming the top job in football before taking such a bold decision.

He has travelled extensively in recent weeks in an attempt to drum up support in the Middle East and Europe.

I'm not a revolutionary.... I do not make changes just for changes sake
Issa Hayatou

And the signs are he has succeeded.

He has the backing of both Lennart Johansson, the Uefa president, and Dr Chung Mong-joon, the powerful president of the Korean Football Association.

Should Hayatou succeed in deposing Blatter at the Fifa Congress in Seoul on 28-29 May, he will become Fifa's first African president.

A popular figure in Africa, he was just 41 when he became head of Caf in 1988 following the death of Ethiopian Ydnekatchew Tessema.

Now 55, he has been re-elected three times, losing just three votes out of 51 in the presidential election of January 2000.

Hayatou also serves as a Fifa vice-president and as chairman of the organising committee for the Olympic football tournament.

In December, he was named a member of the International Olympic Committee, having previously served in the structures of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa.

A physical education teacher, Hayatou was born into a regal family in Garoua in the north of Cameroon on 9 August, 1946.

His father was the 'Lamido' or sovereign of the region while his elder brother, Sadou, served as Cameroon's prime minister in the early 1990s.

A former international athlete and basketballer, Hayatou served as an athletics trainer before turning to soccer administration.

Dr Chung Mong-joon, president of the Korean Football Association
Dr Chung Mong-joon is in the Hayatou camp
From 1976 to 1982, he was secretary-general of the Cameroon Football Federation and then the central African country's sports director from 1983 to 1987.

After being elected to the Caf presidency 14 years ago, he described himself as a fighter for equality in sports but added: "I'm not a revolutionary. I do not make changes just for changes sake."

He has enjoyed the loyalty of most of Africa by ensuring that each national association president had a place on one of Caf's standing committees.

A number deserted him in 1998 when he backed Johansson's bid for the Fifa presidency against Blatter.

But he now appears to have won back the defectors despite being suffering another setback in 1998 when television cameras caught him sleeping during one World Cup match in France.

His popularity comes as no surprise.

He constantly champions Africa's cause, his biggest success being to increase the continent's number of World Cup finals places from two in 1990 to five in 1998.

Uefa's Lennart Johansson
"I give him my full support"
See also:

15 Mar 02 |  Africa
Hayatou targets Blatter
15 Mar 02 |  Football
Blatter in new Uefa row
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