One of Africa’s most-respected football politicians Danny Jordaan failed in his fourth consecutive attempt to land a place on the FIFA Council.
His attempts for eight years has ended in disappointment but the latest one to the uncelebrated former Malawi defender Walter Nyamilandu has been the most shocking and perhaps most painful for the 2010 World Cup organiser.
The South African was soundly thrashed by the African football politics rookies as he defeated Jordaan by 35 votes to 18 after two rounds of voting in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on Sunday.
The pair had been in a three-way vote along with the former Tanzania Football Federation president Leodegar Tenga, the proficient African football administrator, who also sits on the CAF Executive Committee with the South African.
Tenga dropped out after the first round of voting leaving Jordaan as the irresistible favourite to win the seat against Nyamilandu, condemned by some as a novice in African football politics.
However Nyamilandu pulled a big surprise when he won both rounds of voting, consigning the man highly praised for successfully organising Africa’s first World Cup to a defeat and permanently ending the veteran South African politician’s dreams of serving on the FIFA Council.
This has sent to African football politics observers scratching their heads over why the man touted as one of the finest brains in failed in Egypt:
Below are the reasons:
Failure to consult before making the decision to contest: Danny took the decision to contest the election without consulting all the major power brokers in the game. His decision was not widely accepted among the CAF hierarchy as well as the regional bodies where true power lies. The decision to thrown his hat into the ring without listening to the concerns or expectations of these power brokers gave the opportunity for other candidates to take advantage and build alliances. These alliances came to the fore in the second round of voting when CECAFA overwhelmingly threw its weight behind Nyamilandu. It exposed the fact that Jordaan’s support base was weak, restricting himself to just COSAFA and Anglophone countries.
Overconfident posture: Jordaan has always cut of figure of an arrogant person among several African football officials who view him as an elitist and this continues to haunt him. In a game of several common people in Africa an affable and approachable demeanour is needed to win delegates over. In real life Danny is a lovely person but his inability to transmit his personality to the wide group of African football delegates makes it impossible to appreciate him. While these qualities might look petty or trivial in the eyes of the uninitiated, it is crucial among African football voters to be seen to be associated with them in good or bad times, knowledgeable or dump, rich or poor.
Punishment for not supporting the African bid for the 2026 World Cup: Some delegates openly stated after the elections in Sharm El Sheikh that they punished the South Africa FA President for the decision to back the American ahead of Morocco – a gamble seen by many as a betrayal of Africa’s trust. The entire continent of Africa rallied behind South Africa to win the 2010 World Cup bid and the decision not to support another African country seeking the chance to host the World Cup was seen by many as a stab in the Africa of the continent. Those Africans who were bitterly disappointed delivered their response to Danny in the ballot box.
Jordaan won’t fight Africa’s interest at the FIFA Council: Another disastrous consequence of South Africa’s decision to back America’s 2026 World Cup bid is that opened Jordaan up to the accusation that he won’t be fighting the cause of Africa when he gets onto the FIFA Council as he would prefer to back the financially endowed confederations like CONCACAF and UEFA as they continuously lobby seek to isolate CAF and AFC in their bid to turn FIFA into the UN where the richest countries host the sway with their Security Council veto power.
Broken COSAFA front – Despite an election to decide who would represent COSAFA lobby on the ballot paper, two candidates defied that election to file their nomination papers to contest and that exposed the broken COSAFA front. Even though Nyamilandu and Seychelles’ Elvis Chetty are from the Southern African regional bloc that decided to back Jordaan after their election their decision to defy that vote showed that COSAFA did not have a united front. Even though Chetty withdrew his candidature in the very last minute, at least five countries in the bloc broke away and voted for Nyamilandu. The disunity broke their front and made it difficult for him to get the unanimous support of the delegates from COSAFA which could have caused some problems for Nyamilandu.
Lack of key domestic support in South Africa: It was clear from the way Danny campaigned that he didn’t enjoy the unanimous support of some of the key personalities in South Africa who have experience, knowledge and contacts in the African game. Several top football administrators like Molefi Oliphant, Dr Irvin Khoza, Tokyo Sexkwale and the rest did not join or were not invited to Danny’s camp to campaign. With their knowledge and contacts in the African game, they could have pulled some strings for Danny. He was restricted to travelling with the SAFA Vice President Ria Ledwaba and a few SAFA officials – many of whom are not known or recognised in the African football fraternity. There is also a rumoured friction between Danny and some former top officials SAFA and the friends of the latter in the other countries revenged in voting against him.
A weak campaign team: The gravitas of the campaign team assembled by Danny Jordaan was the direct opposite of the men and women he assembled that helped his country to win the 2010 World Cup bid. A campaign team of diverse strengths, contacts, human traits and knowledge of the game was what Danny used to help his country but on this occasioned he relied solely of some wannabe African football experts mainly with journalism backgrounds. Some of them were not popular among delegates while the appearance of others drew the ire of some heavyweights in the game, a complete put off. Instead of focusing on what Danny can deliver for the continent when he is voted onto the FIFA Council they resorted to attacking personalities particularly the CAF President Ahmad and his close allies claiming they were backing Nyamilandu. Whether those insults, bizarre unsubstantiated allegations and outright lies were endorsed by Danny is another thing but the act drove a big dagger into the heart of Danny’s noble efforts, completely destroying any chance of him winning as it deterred a lot of delegates from voting for the South African.
Failure to build alliances: No one wins African football political elections without building alliances within the fraternity over a long period of time. The fact that Danny is a knowledgeable person is not enough to win an election of just 54 delegates particularly in Africa where seniority or respect of the elder counts very highly. As a member of CAF Executive Committee, he should have built his alliances and allegiances particularly towards the largest blocs and various interest groups. These blocs often bargain for present or future support in elections. This means a candidate could opt out to bide his time in future elections for future support. The Francophone and Arab-speaking group did not take Danny’s quest for position seriously because he had not developed the interest in courting them for the over 30 years he has been in African football politics. Despite his journey to Niger and Senegal where WAFU Zone A and B were meeting, his effort to court the largest Francophone group in Africa was not taken seriously as their minds had already been made.
Consistent bad political calculation: The perennial problem of Danny calculating badly before making his decision to contest elections on the continental stage came back to haunt him. For the fourth time Danny failed to make it onto the FIFA Council because of calculating badly on his chances of victory. Since 2010 the South African has tried four times and failed on all occasions even though he withdrew once.
False hopes from the media and delegates’ deception: There were big articles in the South Africa press particularly the City Press declaring Danny as the overwhelming favourites and most experienced. This was also backed by some African football journalists on social media platforms, giving Danny a false hope of security of the election. This false hope was also replicated when Danny met the delegates to campaign. They overwhelmingly promised to vote for Danny while mocking his attempts behind his back. The die was cast.