Issa Hayatou will be granted the status of honorary president of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) next month at a special ceremony in his home nation Cameroon.
Hayatou is the longest-serving ruler in Caf’s history, having led the African football body from 1988 to 2017.
The 74-year-old was made an honorary vice-president of Fifa after losing the elections three years ago, and now Caf is following suit.
“This distinguished leader presided over Caf for 30 years… and this honour salutes his immense role in the development of African football,” Caf said in a statement.
The decision to make Hayatou an honorary president was a proposal by the Executive Committee (ExCo) which the General Assembly approved on Friday.
The ceremony, which originally would have taken place in early 2020 but was postponed due to coronavirus, will take place in Yaounde on 15 January – a day before the African Nations Championship (Chan) kicks off in Cameroon.
That tournament has been given the green light to go ahead by Caf’s Executive Committee, who are satisfied that the country is ready to host after a delegation inspected the stadiums, training grounds and hotels in October.
Despite the ongoing uncertainty regarding the threat posed by coronavirus, Caf hopes to be able to fill stadiums to 25% of their capacity for Chan, a tournament for African players based in their own domestic leagues.
Caf will also hope to be able to keep Covid-19 infections to a minimum among the 16 teams over the three-week-long tournament, which ends on 7 February.
African football’s ruling body receives most of its revenue from hosting tournaments, which it has been unable to do for most of the year given the pandemic, leading Caf to announce an anticipated loss of $13m for the latest financial year.
Meanwhile, the African Super Cup – which will be played by the continent’s champions Al Ahly of Egypt and Confederation Cup winners RS Berkane of Morocco – has been given a date to be played in “the first half of 2021” after difficulties finding an agreement with Qatar, which will host the game.
Caf also approved the opening of bids from nations wishing to host the inaugural Women’s Champions League next year, as well as the final of both the Champions League and Confederation Cup for the next three years.
Both Friday’s General Assembly, which was held virtually, and Thursday’s Executive Committee meeting, held in person in Cairo, were chaired by Constant Omari, Caf’s first vice-president who has been acting up after president Ahmad was handed a five-year ban by Fifa last month.
“It is clear that on a personal level, it made me very sad,” said Fifa president Gianni Infantino, who joined the General Assembly by video link early on. “We have to respect the decision of the independent bodies in Fifa – that is clear.”
Ahmad has since announced his intention to appeal.
Caf’s ExCo is next set to meet in Yaounde on 15 January, the day when Ahmad’s predecessor Hayatou is set to be officially recognised for his service to the African game.