The head of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Ahmad Ahmad, has been handed a five year ban from football by Fifa, following an ethics investigation by the world football governing body.
Fifa announced the decision in a statement which said Ahmad had been found wanting in transparency by the independent Ethics Committee.
Ahmad, who had intended to contest an election in March that would see him remain in office if wins, was found guilty of offering and taking bribes, and misappropriation of funds.
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“The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee found him guilty of having breached art 15 (Duty of loyalty), art 20 (offering and accepting gifts or other benefits) and art 25 (Abuse of position) of the 2020 edition of the FIFA Code of Ethics, as well as art 28 (Misappropriation of funds) of the 2018 edition,” the statement said.
In 2019, former CAF general secretary Amr Fahmy, who died earlier this year from cancer, had sent a document of corruption allegations against Ahmad to Fifa, but was dismissed.
According to Reuters, the document, sent March 31, 2019 by Fahmy, accused Ahmad of ordering his secretary-general to pay $20,000 bribes into accounts of African football association presidents, who included Cape Verde and Tanzania.
Among the allegations contained in the document is that Ahmad made CAF to spend an extra $830,000 by ordering equipment via a French intermediary company called Tactical Street. He was also accused of harassing four female CAF staff, whom it did not name, violating status to increase Moroccan representation within the organization, and over-spending more than $400,000 of CAF’s money on cars in Egypt and Madagascar, where a satellite office were set up for him.
The document, though it cost Ahmy his job, instigated a lot of interest into how Ahmad was running the African football business.
In June 2019, French authorities, the OCLIF, the French police agency fighting financial crime and corruption, questioned Ahmad on allegations of corruption after he was taken from his hotel, according to French media reports.
Two months after his interrogation by OCLIF, Fifa general secretary Fatima Samoura was made ‘general delegate’ for Africa and took control of a large part of CAF’s affairs.
The development was followed by a review of the football body’s finances in February, by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC). The finance organization, in its report, criticized how CAF had managed its funds. Reuter reported PWC saying in its 55-page report that “the accounting records of CAF are unreliable and not trustworthy”.
The documents reviewed showed several red flags and pointed to financial irregularities and abuse of power.
“Given the serious nature of certain findings and red flags identified from the preliminary due-diligence, we cannot rule out the possibility of potential irregularities,” the report said.
It was based on these findings that the Fifa Ethics Committee launched a full investigation, and consequently found Ahmad guilty of corruption.
The adjudicatory chamber found that Ahmad had breached arts 15, 20 and 25 of the current edition of the FIFA Code of Ethics, as well as art 28 of the 2018 edition, and sanctioned him with a ban from all football related activity at both national and international level for five years. He was also fined 200,000 Swiss francs.
Mr. Ahmad was notified of the terms of the decision on Monday, November 23, 2020, the day the ban took effect. He will be further notified of the full motivated decision in the next 60 days, after which it will be published in Fifa’s website, in accordance with art 78 par.2 of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
The development only underscores the underlying problem of corruption in football, particularly in Africa. Former CAF president Isa Hayatou ended his 29-year reign tainted by corruption allegations, in 2017. At that time, Fifa president Sepp Blatter was sitting at the helm of affairs full of allegations of corruption.
Blatter was banned from football in 2015 over a 1.6m pounds payment to the then Uefa president, Michel Platini, who was also banned.
A string of other Fifa power brokers in the executive committee were also indicted for alleged corruption in the US Department of Justice criminal proceedings, and some were banned by Fifa’s ethics committee.
Hayatou’s dent came through a FR100,000 payment he received from the marketing company ISL, which was found guilty of serial bribe payment to Fifa officials. He admitted receiving the money but justified it. He said the fund was used to celebrate CAF’s 40-year anniversary in 1997.
It was part of the corruption series and rumors that spurred the continent to source a credible candidate who will challenge Hayatou’s dynasty.
Therefore, while Ahmad had seemed the underdog in the 2017 election, the astounding support he gained within a short time was a clear statement that African football had had enough of Hayatou.
Unfortunately, barely three years into his reign, Ahmad has proved far worse than Hayatou. His actions have created a situation that once again, puts the integrity of African football under serious question.