Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous archipelago of islands off the east coast of Africa, was admitted Thursday as a full member of the African soccer confederation.
Zanzibar’s national team will now be able to enter the African Cup of Nations and other CAF national team tournaments, and its soccer association will have a vote on continental issues.
Zanzibar, officially part of Tanzania but with its own government, was given unanimous approval at the Confederation of African Football’s general assembly. Zanzibar was previously an associate member, allowing its clubs to play in CAF competitions but not its national team.
Zanzibar takes the number of CAF full member nations to 55, equal with UEFA as the biggest of FIFA’s six confederations.
Zanzibar is not a member of FIFA, but acceptance as a CAF member can be seen as a first step to joining the world soccer body.
Ahead of the decision, Tanzania soccer federation president Jamal Malinzi called for Zanzibar to be admitted. Tanzania’s federation also previously made a request to CAF that Zanzibar be accepted.
In its main business, CAF’s general assembly will decide later Thursday if Issa Hayatou continues as head of African soccer. Hayatou, CAF president for 29 years and seeking an eighth term in office, is being challenged in an election by Madagascar federation head Ahmad.
In a final address to voters before the election, Ahmad promised more money for CAF’s member countries, who will vote in the election, and said the African soccer body would have a new code of ethics under him.
“I’m not a candidate who will serve his personal interests . African football cannot be managed by bandits,” Ahmad said.
In his speech, Cameroon’s Hayatou, who is 70, said he possessed “unrivalled experience and wisdom” as CAF president.