For many years, African football has suffered high levels of (for lack of a better term) mediocre leadership. Leaders in CAF came as messiahs but turn out to be nothing more than thirsty wolves in sheep clothing.
Ahmad’s reign has been riddled with scandal after scandal with allegations of corruption and abuse of authority which prompted FIFA to take over the affairs of African Football last year.
When Ahmad took over the presidency of Africa’s governing body in March 2017, he pledged to develop the game of football on the continent and reform the scandal-tainted organization.
Two years later, Ahmad was compelled to hand over the mandate to manage football on the continent to FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura.
Ahmad who was being investigated over corruption and sexual misconduct allegations, was also required to work with FIFA to conduct a forensic audit of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Under his reign, CAF made a rather unusual decision to buy sportswear at inflated prices from a French company rather than directly from manufacturers, there by rocking the football community in Africa.
More questions than answers arise about how Ahmad and his allies are managing affairs at CAF as there seems no sense of direction and no sense of purpose.
An audit of the governing body for soccer in Africa uncovered millions of dollars of financial irregularities. A 55-page report by the accountancy firm PWC, hired to audit the confederation, found problems across the board, including with the dispensation of millions of dollars of soccer development funds sent to the African soccer body by FIFA.
The report also cited payments for gifts and, in at least one instance, for organizing a funeral.
The report provided yet another reminder of the challenges for good governance facing global soccer.
The report said that FIFA had remitted a total of $51 million to the African governing body from 2015 to 2018 and that since then, about $24 million of that amount had been disbursed by African soccer officials. In reviewing 40 payments totaling $10 million, auditors found that just five of the payments, adding up to $1.6 million, had sufficient documentation to confirm what the money would be spent on. The rest lacked information that in some cases made it impossible to identify the beneficiaries of the funds.
CAF being one of the biggest federations in the world is expected to lead the rest of the world but the corruption and misplacement of resources has made us a laughing stock.
CAF will be holding its Presidential elections on 12 March 2021 in Rabat Morocco, with several big names trying to challenge President Ahmad. Ahmad has so far refused to confirm whether he will run for another term. With that in mind he would look to his alternatives who have been his cohorts to destroying CAF, CAF Vice-President, the Congolese dinosaur Constant Omari Selemani, Faouzi Lekjaa his third vice president and Abo Rida the former Egyptian FA President who was pressured by his own country to resign.
Ahmad’s second in command constant Omari calls the big shots in CAF. One of those decisions was the withdrawal from the 12-year, 1-billion dollar guaranteed commercial rights agreement with French agency Lagardere Sports and Entertainment (LSE), and quite foolishly at the time of that withdrawal, CAF did not have a guaranteed alternative to this agreement.
Now CAF have no commercial contract, no prospects and have been dug into an even deeper hole by the covid-19 pandemic, whose end is nowhere in sight.
On the other hand, Fouzi Lekjaa has been the smoking gun in Ahmad’s hand as he went about his business of destroying CAF. In 2017, shortly after his election to the CAF Presidency, Ahmad created the position of CAF 3rd Vice-President, despite this position being absent from the CAF statutes, and gifting it to Fouzi Lekjaa.
Fouzi Lekjaa was also gifted the position of Chairman of the very powerful CAF Finance committee from which he was expected to oversee the financial viability and prudent management of CAF and its resources.
Abo Rida is another who could step into Ahmad’s shoes should he not seek re-election. Abo Rida was also being investigated and prosecuted for using bribery to influence CAF FA Presidents to vote him during the 2017 FIFA Council elections.
Following a dismal performance by Egypt at the Afcon in 2019, Abo Rida was pressured to resign as FA president.
Shortly after his resignation, sources within the Egyptian Government confirmed that a probe would be conducted into the affairs of the EFA with a view to confirming the existence of high level corruption.
These are the people we have entrusted our beautiful game. People who are there to embezzle and mismanage resources meant for football development. They gift each other bribes to gain favours at the expense of the development of football.
Questions arise and most importantly, when will African Football be liberated from mediocrity? When will sports Administrators be held accountable for their corrupt wrong doing? When will African football stakeholders rise up and demand for transparency, Integrity, equity and sanity?
With CAF Presidential elections approaching we have an opportunity to bring back sanity to our game. On January 11, CAF is expected to communicate the names of the successful candidates to all the national associations ahead of the vote in March.
Therefore, we must demand that the elections be held under a free and fair environment. All candidates vying for positions must be treated fairly and given chance to contribute to the development of the game that we all love.
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