CAF’s desperate call for help. FIFA to parachute in Samoura to govern Africa

By Osasu Obayiuwana

June 20 – The executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), in what is an unprecedented act in the global game, passed a motion on Wednesday to ask FIFA, the world governing body, to directly participate in the running of its day-to-day financial and administrative affairs. 

FIFA will send Fatma Samoura (pictured), its Senegalese-born Secretary-General, to CAF, to become a ‘FIFA High Commissioner for Africa’, who will be directly involved in its governance for six months, until January 31st 2020.

Before now, FIFA has never been directly involved in the management of any Confederation, as they are distinct and separate bodies which are not under the control of FIFA, unlike the 211 national associations that make up FIFA’s membership.

“The responsibilities and mandate of the FIFA High Commissioner should be clearly defined and approved by both CAF and FIFA,” said the confidential briefing document that was passed to CAF’s executive committee members at a meeting which took place at the Cairo Marriott hotel, the organisational base of CAF for the one-month Africa Cup of Nations tournament, which begins on Friday.

According to the briefing document, seen by Insideworldfootball, the “series of recent events concerning governance-related matters at CAF have created a high-risk of turbulence and instability, which risks to damage not only CAF and African football, but also FIFA.”

FIFA’s Ethics Committee is currently investigating the conduct of CAF President Ahmad following a string of financial and sexual harassment complaints.

Before the decision to invite FIFA, the world body had already begun an audit of CAF’s books, to examine how the Confederation has spent FIFA grants, which come to about $10 million per year.

CAF’s direct invitation to FIFA will mean the world body has the right to carry out a full financial and administrative audit of the organisation, which the CAF executive committee made no progress on, despite taking a decision on April 11, triggered by the complaints of Liberia’s Musa Bility – to carry out a full financial and administrative audit of its own.

It is yet to be explained how Samoura’s role will not clash with the constitutional role of CAF President Ahmad and his 21-man executive committee, which is the only body recognised, in its statutes, to run the body.

“We are now entering a very difficult and dangerous phase for the organisation,” says an executive committee member opposed to FIFA’s intervention.

“But we fell into this trap, by not taking action with our own forensic audit, which we ordered in April.”

One leading member of the executive committee, who defended the action, said the inability of CAF’s leadership to resolve the problems of the organisation compelled FIFA to step in.

“We have too many political intrigues in African football, which is making it hard to solve our problems, so I think the involvement of FIFA is the best way to resolve the problems that we have.”

It remains to be seen if CAF’s General Assembly, which is the supreme body of the organisation, will approve FIFA’s intervention, when it meets next month in Cairo.

The legality of that General Assembly is already the subject of controversy amongst member associations, because they were not given the required statutory notice of 120 days before the July 18 congress date was fixed.

Contact the writer of this story, Osasu Obayiuwana, at moc.l1596532316labto1596532316ofdlr1596532316owedi1596532316sni@o1596532316fni1596532316