KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Ahmad Ahmad has announced his intention of standing for re-election next March as African football supremo. Whether he will have that chance is open to question after a report that he faces charges of serious ethics breaches.
The reign of the 60-year-old from Madagascar, who ousted long-serving Issa Hayatou in 2017, has hardly been a matter of celebration.
Ahmads – who has tested positive for coronavirus – was reported initially to FIFA for misuse of his position in early 2019, was briefly detained and questioned by French police over associated issues and then suffered the humiliation of seeing the world federation impose its own authority on his disorganised administration.
Ahmad claimed earlier this week that his CAF re-election campaign had the support of all Africa’s six regional associations. This has since been refuted by presidents of various members of both the North African region as well as COSAFA in the south.
That may be the least of Ahmad’s problems.
The BBC, while noting the re-election statement, reported that the investigatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee had assessed Ahmad as having been in breach of rules and regulations and referred him to the adjudicatory chamber for judgment.
If found guilty Ahmad would incur a suspension ruling him out of the election. This could open the way to the top job for Nigeria’s Amaju Pinnick. The president of the NFA has become distanced from Ahmad after being an influential supporter back in 2017.
Ahmad stood for the presidency then 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.
The report also accused Ahmad 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 Ahmad had created a local office for himself.
Ahmad denied all the accusations; Fahmy was sacked.
The following June, also in 2019, Ahmad, one of FIFA’s seven vice-presidents, was detained for 12 hours for questioning by French police while in Paris attending FIFA Congress. No charges were brought.
Two weeks later FIFA despatched its Senegalese secretary-general Fatma Samoura to effectively take over the running of CAF for six months. Samoura seized control of various broadcast rights negotiations despite anger among local football bosses who resented the imposition of a woman over their heads.
Samoura’s mission was brought to an end by FIFA president Gianni Infantino – originally a supporter of Ahmad – early this year. Within weeks the Covid-19 pandemic had brought African international football to a virtual standstill.
The last thing African football needed right now was more governance disruption.