By Paul Nicholson
June 26 – The dispute over the running of football in Cameroon that has seen FIFA’s unequivocal support of Tombi A Roko Sidiki as Cameroon FA (Fecafoot) president has entered a new phase. News is emerging of a complaint filed to FIFA’s ethics body against president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura.
The complaint raises questions about their integrity as well as wider issues regarding the credibility and integrity of their new ethics investigatory chief, and of the powers of the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS).
Central to the complaint is that FIFA have unlawfully recognised Tombi and his executive committee despite a CAS ruling that Tombi is not the lawful Cameroon FA president and should not be recognised as such.
They complain that Infantino and Samoura have deliberately broken FIFA’s own statutes to keep Tombi in place. At best they have ignored the CAS ruling, which in turn questions the position of CAS as football’s highest court of law, or at least the current FIFA executive’s respect of its role.
The complaint to the FIFA Ethics committee says that: “The FIFA President and Secretary General have not enforced and have not ensured that the FIFA Statutes are enforced,” that; “The FIFA President has failed in his duty to foster a positive image of FIFA”, and that; “The FIFA President and Secretary General have violated the provisions of the FIFA Code of Ethics”.
FIFA has not acknowledged receipt of the complaint to the Cameroonian complainants. Nor has FIFA responded to Insideworldfootball questions on its status, including confirmation they have received it. Insideworldfootball has seen a copy of a DHL receipt confirming the complaint was delivered to FIFA House in Zurich on 4 May 2017, days before the FIFA Congress in Bahrain at which Tombi took part. Tombi also participated in the CAF elections for FIFA Council positions.
Tombi and his executive committee in Cameroon are under fire from top tier clubs who maintain he is holding position and supported by FIFA in contravention of FIFA’s own laws. They have been led by the Etoile Filante club and its president Abdouraman Hamadou Babba, who reported the breaches to the FIFA Ethics committee.
FIFA’s executive has come under criticism for using its power and influence to affect the outcome of the now infamous elections for the CAF presidency in April that saw Madagascar’s Ahmad Ahmad topple long term African supremo Issa Hayatou.
There have been numerous other allegations of corruption within African federations and their manipulation by FIFA and its executive function led by Samoura. These accusations have been denied and evidence dismissed as hearsay. FIFA’s president is fond of using ‘fake news’ as his defense.
But the Cameroonian case and complaint is different and hardly fake news, especially as the foundation of its evidence is backed by a CAS ruling and a hard copy of the most recent complaint filed by Etoile Filante’s Babba. Last week FIFA’s new chairwoman of its investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee María Claudia Rojas, confirmed that all files have been handed over to her and that there are no open preliminary or investigation proceedings involving the FIFA President.
Somewhere there is a discontent – and certainly a convenient one for FIFA. Certainly it was an inauspicious start for the investigatory chamber chairwoman in her first public statement on her work. The overriding impression is that this is one dispute FIFA wants brushed under the carpet, but the more brushing they do the more of a trail of dust the storm creates.
FIFA told the BBC that it was bringing forward a reconciliation meeting for Cameroon football stakeholders. But this in itself looks like disinformation as most of the same club stakeholders invited have written to FIFA saying they can’t attend any talks that include Tombi as he is not president of Fecafoot. FIFA are insisting Tombi has to be there. The clubs have also asked FIFA to provide an agenda for the meeting – that has not been forthcoming.
In his submission to FIFA’s ethics function – a submission that contains 18 exhibits to support his argument – Babba says: “By endorsing the usurpation of position of President of FECAFOOT by Mr Tombi A Roko for many months running, the FIFA President, Mr Gianni Infantino has portrayed to Cameroon and Africa an image of a FIFA of two classes, operating on the basis of cronyism and personal interest. By proceeding this way in Cameroon, at the time when FIFA needs to improve upon its image, Mr Gianni Infantino and his administration give FIFA the image of an institution which does not respect its own rules and principles. All this are of a nature to discredit FIFA and tarnish its image in public opinion.”
Meanwhile, FIFA has welcomed (quite rightly) the Cameroon team to the Confederations Cup, and met (perhaps not so transparently) with their Cameroon president and members of his executive committee. The picture shows Samoura and Tombi holding the pennant.
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