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Abu Dhabi: The AFC Diamond of Asia Award 2016 has been bestowed on Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Issa Hayatou as a mark of recognition of his contributions to the game in Asia.

Issa Hayatou is the Indomitable Lion of not only Cameroon but also of Africa – a man who has served the game he loves for more than 42 years and has been the President of the Confederation of African Football since March 1988 and four years later became FIFA Senior Vice President.

He was Acting FIFA President between October 2015 and February 2016 when he provided impetus behind the FIFA Reform measures

But most of all his wise counsel and timely advice has been valuable to all those who have worked with him at FIFA and in particular the support and friendship that he has extended to football in Asia.

This was formalised in January 2016 in Kigali, the Rwanda capital, when Issa Hayatou joined AFC President Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa in signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the two great Confederations.

During the 1970s, the AFC and CAF strengthened their bilateral relationship. They established two intercontinental competitions: the biennial Afro-Asian Cup of Nations in1985 and the annual Afro-Asian Club Championship in 1987.

Both Confederations benefitted from the relationship, and technical and referee exchange was an integral part of the cooperation.

The new MoU is sharing expertise in order to boost development of football on the two continents.

The co-operation will deliver a legacy for Asia and Africa. A legacy that is not merely sporting, but also cultural and social. The MoU will bring about benefits for both continents and for the AFC and CAF Member Associations.

Africa and Asia are two great continents. Two great football continents which have made a dramatic impact on the global football stage in this century. There is no doubt that Africa’s rise is due in no small part to their Indomitable Lion, Issa Hayatou.

Photo: AFC