KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Ahmad Ahmad, suspended president of the African football confederation, is still fighting to beat his ban in time to stand for re-election in March.
In January the Madagascar official was ruled ineligible to stand for re-election by the CAF governance panel after having been banned from all football for five years by the ethics committee of world federation FIFA – of which he was a vice-president.
The 60-year-old ousted Cameroon’s long-serving Issa Hayatou as CAF president in 2017 but is placing his hopes of staying in power on an accelerated appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport which will be heard on March 2.
Ahmad stood for the CAF presidency initially on a platform promising administrative reform, financial transparency and a potential competitions reorganisation.
However all of this was soon relegated to the shadows by a damning report about the realities submitted to FIFA in spring 2019 by Amr Fahmy, then the CAF secretary-general.
Fahmy claimed he had been ordered by Ahmad to pay $20,000 in bribes into accounts of African FA presidents and that CAF had incurred $830,000 in costs by axing an equipment contract with Puma in favour of a little-known French intermediary named Tactical Steel.
Ahmad had also used CAF funds to pay for a pilgrimage to Mecca for several members of the executive committee.
On top of all this Ahmad was accused of harassing four female members of the CAF staff, amending statutes to increase Moroccan representation within the organisation and over-spending more than $400,000 of CAF money on cars in Egypt and Madagascar, where he had set up a local office for himself.
Ahmad denied all the allegations but that cut little ice with the FIFA ethics committee although there was some surprise that he was banned for ‘only’ five years.
He immediately appealed to CAS and requested that the sports court order the lifting of his suspension pending the appeal.
CAS refused that petition but agreed to a stay of execution pending the outcome of an appeal 10 days before the CAF elections congress in Rabat, Morocco, on March 12.
This means that Ahmad’s bid for re-election remains technically valid.
A CAS statement said: “In agreement with Mr Ahmad and FIFA, the CAS initiated an expedited procedure and has fixed the hearing date for 2 March 2021 (with a reserve day on 3 March 2021). The CAS Panel in charge of the matter intends to render a final award shortly after the hearing, i.e. before 12 March 2021.”
Four candidates have been approved to stand for the CAF presidency by the governance committees of both CAF and FIFA.
They are Ahmed Yahya, 44, from Mauritania, South African millionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe, 58, Augustin Emmanuel Senghor, 55, from Senegal and Ivory Coast FA president Jacques Anouma, 69.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has registered an appeal filed by Mr Ahmad Ahmad against the decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee issued on 19 November 2020 (grounds served on 21 January 2021).
Such decision established that Mr Ahmad had committed several infractions of the FIFA Code of Ethics and imposed on him a ban from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level for five years, as well as a fine of CHF 200’000.
With his statement of appeal requesting the annulment of the FIFA decision, Mr Ahmad filed a request for provisional measures in order to be able to participate in the elections of the African Football Confederation (CAF) on 12 March 2021.
In agreement with Mr Ahmad and FIFA, the CAS initiated an expedited procedure and has fixed the hearing date for 2 March 2021 (with a reserve day on 3 March 2021). The CAS Panel in charge of the matter intends to render a final award shortly after the hearing, i.e. before 12 March 2021.
Due to a risk of irreparable harm for Mr Ahmad if the disciplinary sanction is maintained during the period prior to the CAF elections, the CAS Panel has upheld the request to temporarily stay the effects of the decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee until the day that the final CAS award is issued.
However, the Panel has emphasized that such temporary decision does not prejudge in any way the decision it will take after analysing the merits of the case, once the written proceedings and the hearing have been completed.
On the other hand, the arbitral Panel has rejected the request for provisional measures filed by Mr Ahmad seeking that an order be imposed preventing FIFA from taking any decision aimed at preventing Mr Ahmad from participating in, or aimed at making it difficult for him to participate in, the election for the CAF presidency scheduled for 12 March 2021.