KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- FIFA’s proposed despatch of secretary-general Fatma Samoura to sort out the chaotic African Football Confederation has run up against high-level opposition.
On Wednesday the world football federation and CAF announced a joint response to a plea for help from the African governing body’s executive committee. Samoura, the Senegalese former United Nations official, would be assigned to a role as ‘FIFA General Delegate for Africa’.
This prompted confusion within the wider game.
Most observers agreed that urgent action had been needed to rescue African football from its own leaders but questioned whether Samoura would ever return to the post in Zurich to which she was appointed in the autumn of 2016.
Formal opposition was raised by both Aleksander Ceferin, the president of European federation UEFA, and by Leodegar Tenga, a former head of the Tanzania FA.
Ceferin complained that he needed time to take legal advice on whether the Samoura mission was an appropriate response; Tenga objected that he and English-speaking members of the CAF exco had not been properly consulted.
Ceferin told Infantino, by letter: “I cannot be expected to have your proposal examined by UEFA’s legal team or consult the European members of the FIFA Council on a subject of such great importance in a mere 90 minutes.
“Never in the history of our institutions has the FIFA secretary-general, who under the FIFA Statutes leads the organisation, been placed on secondment to take control of a confederation, even with the latter’s consent.
“You must understand that this is not the type of decision to be taken lightly and in haste. Without our legal analysis of the situation and a consultation of the European members of the FIFA Council, I am not at liberty to approve the proposal you put forward.”
Samoura, a Senegalese former United Nations official, became FIFA’s first female secretary general in 2016 after Infantino’s election.
Tenga, in an open letter to controversial CAF president Ahmad Ahmad and his fellow exco members, said: “There is no doubt that we unanimously agreed, in principle, that the cooperation between FIFA and CAF would lead to . . . CAF adhering to the principles of good governance and enhanced efficiency.
“But we also agreed that Exco members would be given time to go through the proposed text and come up with the details of the cooperation.
“We, the English speakers, requested to be given the English version of the document and we were promised that it would delivered to us soonest possible. Finally it was agreed that the matter will be discussed at the forthcoming exco meeting where details and mode of cooperation would be sorted out.”
Instead the CAF exco had been sidelined from the decision-making progress.