FIFA sends secretary-general to sort out CAF crisis

FIFA is to dispatch Secretary-general Fatma Samoura to Cairo to try to sort out the chaotic state of the scandal-battered African confederation.

If the turmoil within CAF were replicated by a national association FIFA would have no hesitation in imposing a so-called Normalisation Committee.    

It does not have the authority in this case because the confederations are not members of the world body so it was necessary for the embattled CAF executive committee to request help from Zurich.

The issue contains embarrassing elements for FIFA president Gianni Infantino since Ahmad Ahmad, the controversial president of CAF, has been a voluble supporter. Also, it was through Ahmad that Infantino met Samoura, who is Senegalese, when she was working in Africa on behalf of the United Nations. She will now become FIFA’s own ‘High Commissioner’ for the continent’s trouble-torn football community.

Events have moved fast over the past two weeks.

First CAF broke its own rules in ordering a replay of the scandal-hit Champions League Final between Esperance of Tunisia and Wydad of Morocco then Ahmad was detained for questioning by French police while in Paris attending FIFA Congress.

Ahmad was interviewed about the mysterious involvement of a French company, Tactical Steel, in the negotiating of a lucrative new sportswear contract ahead of the African Nations finals which hosts Egypt kick off against Zimbabwe in Cairo on Friday. He was released and flew home immediately to Madagascar.

The deal was among a number of complaints reported to the FIFA ethics committee by the then CAF general secretary Amr Fahmy. Days later he was sacked by Ahmad. Other issues concerned alleged sexual harassment of staff, overspending on new cars and selective ‘personal allowance’ payments to a number of African FA presidents.

In a further development, a senior Algerian journalist who had published investigative reports about the Tactical Steel deal suddenly discovered that his accreditation to cover the Nations Cup had been revoked.

AIPS, the international sports journalists’ association, and the Algerian national body have protested on his behalf at the perceived attack on freedom of expression. This meddling with the media had followed an attempt by Ahmad’s office to set up a ‘captive’ African journalists’ association.

Even before the latest scandals came ever closer to home for Ahmad the African confederation was in a parlous state following a string of corruption scandals which led to the suspensions of a number of senior CAF and national association leaders. – AIPS

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