OF CAF AND FIFA: NOT ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD

Bowman Lusambo in February this year said: “…the current FAZ Executive is killing the game we love so much. Their conduct amounts to that of a serial killer. With the poor results that have characterized their tenure in office, it is fair to say the people running the game today are Football Serial Killers. Their intentions are never about developing the game but getting and maintaining their positions as a way of massaging their small bruised egos. My call is for all genuine football lovers to rise and defend our game from these Serial Killers before they struck the final nail in the coffin.”

These are strong words especially coupled with what else he wrote. And he bases his stance on the national team results. However the issue about Kalusha’s standing for elections in Zambia borders on more than just Chipolopolo performance. It has to do a lot with the geopolitical happenings both in CAF and FIFA. Even the Integrity Test that was used to bar Kalusha Bwalya this time around is a creation of FIFA as a result of the widespread purge of the corruption scourge in our beloved game.

The 2020 Integrity Test is not the first time Kalusha Bwalya is being subjected to integrity tests.

So it is important for us to understand about CAF and FIFA geo-politics.

This afternoon I are going to talk of CAF and FIFA. We have spent the last month talking of Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ), the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the National Sports Council of Zambia and other entities but never about the administrative and controlling body for African association football i.e. The Confederation of African Football or CAF.

When Cameroun’s Issa Hayatou as deposed and Madagascar’s Ahmad Ahmad became president of CAF in May 2017, football in Africa was considered corrupt and somewhat in disarray. The former teacher and sports minister from Cameroon was first elected as the CAF president in 1988 – became a member of the Fifa executive committee two years later – when he was 42 years old and left when he was 71 and was seriously seeking an eighth term but didn’t succeed. Ahmad Ahmad from Madagascar got 34 votes while Hayatou got 20.

Hayatou was a member of the FIFA governing council. His loss signalled the departure of another long-term fixture from world football’s governing body’s executive committee, one which overlapped with the 17-year presidency of Sepp Blatter. That tenure ended when Blatter was banned from football in December 2015 over a SFR2m (£1.6m) payment to the then Uefa president, Michel Platini, who was also banned. A string of other FIFA powerbrokers in that executive committee – like Jack Warner – were indicted for alleged corruption in the US Department of Justice criminal proceedings, or were banned by FIFA’s own ethics committee, for malpractice.

Hayatou himself was not charged or implicated in those investigations, and his long record at the heights of power was tarnished only by an alleged payment to him of FR100,000 from the marketing company ISL, which serially paid bribes to FIFA officials before it collapsed in 2001. Hayatou admitted receiving the money but always said it was not a corrupt payment and that he used it to pay for a celebration of CAF’s 40 year anniversary in 1997.

FIFA did not sanction Hayatou but he was reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee, on which he also sat after he was elected in 2001, for accepting money which the IOC said “in these conditions constitutes a conflict of interest”.

After Ahmad announced his candidacy, promising to unify African football and embrace countries who have “lost their trust, their confidence” in CAF, Hayatou found his support drained away.

Many officials in Hayatou’s 29 years in charge of CAF had been implicated in some of the worst corruption scandals ever to hit African football. These included our very own icon the Great Kalu and FA presidents from Ghana and Uganda. Bribery charges, nepotism, sexual harassment scandals and even selling of games so many many officials came a cropper.

When he took over in 2017, Ahmad posed as a champion of good governance and promised to have significant development money invested smartly and not in “white elephant” building projects. It was Ahmad’s duty to turn round the image of a confederation for whom illicit dealings had become an alarming fact of life. His manifesto was a perfect copy of a standard FIFA and CAF agendas promising good governance and transparency, and to ensure that football was “a lever for economical development and a tool to reach social stability” for young people in Africa.

Despite promising to clean up African soccer’s corruption-tarnished reputation, Ahmad has been criticized for his leadership, sometimes by senior officials within his organization.

For example, in March last year, the 36-year-old General Secretary of CAF, Amr Fahmy, reported Ahmad Ahmad to the FIFA Ethics Committee. Amr Fahmy did hide his face when he made the report of the improprieties at CAF, instead he handed the dossier he had meticulously collected over time to the FIFA Ethics committee and the French police. The documents, sent on 31 March by Fahmy to a FIFA investigations committee, accused the Malagasy Ahmad of sexual harassment and corruption. Ahmad as accused of ordering his secretary-general to pay $20,000 in bribes into accounts of African football association presidents including those from Cape Verde and Tanzania. The documents also accused Ahmad of costing CAF an extra $830,000 by ordering equipment via a French intermediary company called Tactical Steel. Lastly, he is alleged to have also unnecessarily spent more than $400,000 (£305,640) of the organisation’s money on cars in Egypt and Madagascar an setting up a separate presidential office in his country.

Following the expose, Ahmad had his GS fired on 11th April and replaced by Moroccan Hajji Mouad. The CAF authorities did not give details of Amr Fahmy’s dismissal. Afterwards, Deputy General-Secretary for Administration and Finance, Essadik Alaoui, resigned.

A month later, on May 11, 2019 the Confederation of African Football (CAF) president, Ahmad Ahmad, criticised those accusing him of corruption and abuse of office, describing them as “rumour makers”.

But the following month, Ahmad was arrested in Paris on Thursday 6 June by the Central Office for Combating Corruption and Financial and Tax Crimes (OCLCIFF). He was detained for questioning over allegations of corruption. The allegations related to a deal brokered by French company Tactical Steel – owned by an allegedly close friend of Ahmad’s aide Loic Gerand – for the purchase of equipment at a significant mark-up from the price which had been quoted by German sportswear giants Puma. There were also been allegations of abuse of power in the summary dismissal of former CAF General Secretary Amr Fahmy, while many raised their eyebrows when it was revealed that Ahmad had paid for a number of African football association heads to undertake the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. It was also revealed that CAF had paid for weddings for ExComm members and even medical expenses and personal expenses abroad.

But Ahmad later emerged from custody without a charge and without prosecution at this stage. It is understood that investigations are on-going. The rumour is that FIFA intervened because they didn’t want Ahmad soiled.

Various members of the CAF Exco then planned a ‘coup’. They planned a vote of no-confidence in President Ahmad after his arrest in Paris for corruption, bribery and money-laundering. The plan was eventually scuttled when South African FA President Danny Jordan ran to Ahmad with the information and for his loyalty was elevated to the position of CAF 3rd Vice-President.

Surprisingly, on 21st Jun 2019, FIFA designated its General Secretary Fatma Samoura as general delegate for Africa to oversee a forensic audit of Confederation of African Football. Sme expected Ahmad or CAF to be suspended pending investigations. At this stage, Ahmad was under investigation by FIFA’s ethics committee and has been in the eye of the storm over allegations of corruption, financial misappropriation and sexual harassment. But FIFa decided that Samoura would begin working with CAF on August 1 and continue till January 31 2020 and there would be the option to extend her stewardship at the discretion of both CAF and FIFA. Beyond the audit, she would “help to conclusively accelerate the implementation of the ongoing reform process destined to ensure that CAF functions with transparency, efficiency while abiding to the highest governance standards”.

UEFA opposed this as intereference since CAF is not a member of FIFA. Its associations ike FAZ which are members. The inference that CAF is unable to handle its own affairs and deal with its problems internally is one that is “a massive slap in the face of African football”, according to journalist and African football expert, Mark Gleeson.

Bringing FIFA in to effectively help CAF in cleaning its house was, in some ways, ironic because the Swiss Attorney General is currently investigating several cases of corruption in FIFA. Despite FIFA’s careful moves, the global body had not entirely purged itself of suspicion. Whether it could do a proper job of cleaning-up of CAF remained to be seen.

The greatest fear among African football officials was that FIFA was doing a silent forensic audit of the financial affairs of CAF by using their own auditors from Zurich in the name of PriceWaterhouse&Coopers and who answered solely to FIFA. Worse still, some feared that even if CAF was eventually handed back to its owners, they would receive an organization with zero financial reserves. But critics posited that this cosmetic audit would be used to regularize the books of CAF by way of financial and accounting tricks, leaving an institution whose books are already sanitized by FIFA.

During the CAF General Assembly in Egypt on 18th July 2019, and in the face of a financial report read out by Finance Committee Chairman Fouzi Lekjaa, only Andrew Kamanga stood to question the accounts. Rightly so too, because he is a chartered accountant of no mean repute and the way the books of CAF have been handled by Ahmad, have left too many questions in the minds of right thinking people.

In August 2019, Senegalese Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s delegate general for Africa, arrived at CAF headquarters to begin a financial management audit mission. And months later, the audit commissioned by her was out. The details are were damning as they are shocking though to many they were not entirely unexpected. The leaked document showed unprecedented levels of looting of the CAF reserves by the Ahmad leadership; cash that was left behind by former CAF President Issa Hayatou. It was reported that the FIFA forensic audit had discovered a $24 million hole in the books of accounts, which can neither be justified nor supported.

Reports suggest that the inner circle of the CAF Exco went about destroying all supporting documents that could tie them directly to the funds loss, blissfully unaware that records could easily be reconstructed by thorough forensic auditors.

On 24th February 2020 Amr Fahmy, former general secretary of the African Football Confederation who blew the whistle on the corrupt activities of his boss Ahmad Amhad, has died of cancer at the age of 36. Fahmy, whose father and grandfather also worked as CAF General Secretary, was appointed as CAF’s secretary general in November 2017, replacing Moroccan Hicham El. He was also replaced by another Moroccan Mouad Hajji. Shortly before his death Fahmy revealed he planned to unseat Ahmad by going for the top job in the 2021 CAF elections.

On March 6, 2020, the ghost of Amr came back to haunt Ahmad when news filtered through that FIFA had decided to send a second wave of PriceWaterhouseCoopers auditors to CAF to re-clarify issues raised by the first forensic audit. This second visit by auditors was meant to conduct an in-depth enquiry of specific issues and do budget-tracking of disbursements from CAF accounts following the audit trail. Suprisingly, CAF General Secretary Mouad Hajji quickly resigned and returned to Morocco, from where he would be inaccessible to PWC auditors. The earlier independent review of the running of CAF by PWC, found “potential elements of mismanagement” and “possible abuse of power” amidst concern about widespread use of cash payments.

What surprises many is why, despite the constant refrain from FIFA President Gianni Infantino that FIFA has self-reformed since the 2015 FIFA-gate scandal and indictments, has the global body not moved fast to arrest the alleged corruption at CAF?

I will take a few days off from writing as I have to earn cash for my bills and also sort out issues I am paid for at my club. But when I return, in the coming articles, I will remind the reader how in 2019, FAZ, with the aid of CAF did want to administer an integrity test on Kalusha ahead of CAF ExComm elections. Kamanga underwent the test but Kalusha pulled out ahead of the test. I will also write in details how earlier, Kalusha did get subjected to the test by FIFA when he stood for elections into the FIFA Council. Then South Africa Football Association president Danny Jordaan and Zambia’s Kalusha Bwalya withdrew from the elections a few hours before FIFA was about to announce the list of African officials that had passed the FIFA integrity test. Kalusha announced the withdrawal to a Kenyan journalist saying he wanted to concentrate on his CAF position. The two leaders from COSAFA surprisingly pulled out of the race for a place on the Fifa council in a bizarre twist that left CAF in an unprecedented election crisis because it didn’t leave enough candidates to fill Africa’s places on the Council. Then I will show the geopolitics between FIFA and CAF and how these play our around kamanga and Kalusha. I will wait for the CAS case and the court cases to end before I can say damning things in contempt.

One of the issues I will address is how Africa uses its power of number of votes (54 votes) in FIFA to trade for power and sometimes bribes. I know the power of Africa in global sports politics well. I have been campaign manager and assistant to Mr Lewis Ncube the current African Chess Confederation and FIDE Council member before. Ncube is the most successful global sports leader from Zambia. He is a humble man but knows his politics well and he has taught me a thing or two. In 2014, I traveled to Norway for two weeks with the Zambian national chess teams using my own resources. I used the time to report for the Post newspaper on the chess teams’ exploits on the boards but used my free time to campaign for Mr Ncube who was then FIDE Vice president. I also campaigned for former FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. I would famously clash face to face with presidential hopeful Gary Kasparov who wanted to impose his will on Africa, and I bravely stood up to him for Mr Ncube and for Africa. The following day we made peace with the great man and we took a peace photo hereto attached. Suffice to say our team won both elections and I was lucky enough to get commendations from Gary after he lost. That experience taught me a lot. So I understand the geopolitics of CAF and FIFA though am yet to get involved in either apart from the FIFA training I have undertaken as a coach and as an administrator.

Until then, cheers.

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