By Andrew Warshaw
May 30 – Supporters of African football chief Ahmad Ahmad are rallying around their under-fire president ahead of next week’s Confederation of African Football regional summit in Paris and the full FIFA Congress the following day.
Ahmad, who is believed to be under the gaze of the FIFA ethics committee for multiple financial mismanagement accusations as well as a swathe of sexual harassment complaints, will be in the full glare of the world’s media after what has been the most torrid period of his two-year tenure.
The FIFA probe is believed to focus on information provided by former CAF general secretary Amr Fahmy who was personally fired by Ahmad for apparent incompetence at the opening of a recent CAF executive meeting in Cairo and replaced by Morocco’s Hajji Mouad.
Fahmy was apparently dismissed after accusing his boss of misusing of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and an incriminating internal document that has reportedly been sent to FIFA’s ethics department.
Fahmy’s information is said to show he was ordered by Ahmad to pay $20,000 into accounts of African football association presidents including those of Cape Verde and Tanzania – Ahmed’s supports point out that these payments were transparent and recorded in CAF accounts – and that Ahmad cost CAF an extra $830,000 by striking a deal with French company Tactical Steel.
The documentation is said to feature a number of other allegations and although FIFA ethics investigations tend to be lengthy affairs, if found guilty of any wrongdoing Ahmad’s position would surely be rendered untenable.
Sources close to Ahmad have contacted Insideworldfootball in recent days to stress that his position is not in danger and have described the accusations against him as false, malicious and defamatory and part of a vendetta being instigated by Fahmy.
Although the sources declined to go on the record, they insist that Ahmad will do “whatever it takes” to protect his and CAF’s reputation, and that he is consulting with lawyers over possible next steps.
Ahmad is believed to be particularly upset over allegations of sexual harassment, with insiders making the point that CAF has never received a single official complaint to this effect. Those statements are incorrect and misinformation as Insideworldfootball has seen a letter sent by CAF’s secretariat to FIFA outlining complaints by four CAF employees of sexual harassment. It has to be doubtful, however, whether any alleged victims would dare come forward to the very organisation Ahmad controls.
On the matter of Ahmad allegedly lavishing huge amounts of money on expensive cars, the same insiders say all of them are CAF assets and sit on its balance sheet while accusations that Ahmad sanctioned taking 15 of Africa’s muslim FA presidents to Saudi Arabia during Ramadan are also disputed by his backers within African football’s hierarchy who say the visit violated no statutes since an invitation was issued to CAF by the Union of Arab Football Associations.
Despite these assertions, Ahmad, who vehemently believes he has done nothing wrong, will be at pains to fend off further media scrutiny when he chairs a CAF ordinary congress at an exclusive Paris hotel on Tuesday before sitting at the top table of FIFA 24 hours later when Gianni Infantino is re-elected the organisation’s president.
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