By Osasu Obayiuwana in Cairo, Egypt.
July 10 – In what is yet another chapter in the diary of governance troubles for the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the organisation’s Disciplinary Committee (DC) failed to deliver a verdict in the case of Fouzi Lekjaa, its 3rd Vice-President, returning the case to the body’s secretariat.
Lekjaa, who is accused of assaulting Ethiopian Referee Bamelak Tessema, after the second leg of the CAF Confederation Cup final in Alexandria, Egypt, in the presence of several witnesses, did not show up for the hearing, which took place at the Marriott Hotel in Cairo on Tuesday, despite the demand by the DC that he do so.
The DC, in a private communication to the CAF secretariat on Tuesday, said its integrity and capacity to deliver a verdict had been “compromised”, which compelled it to withdraw from hearing the case involving Lekjaa, who is also president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF).
After the Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Raymond Hack, lawyer and former CEO of the South African Football Association, concluded its deliberations, a decision was initially made to suspend Lekjaa for one year.
But after the DC communicated its decision to the CAF Secretariat, Mouad Hadji, the organisation’s Secretary-General, informed the DC that Lekjaa had informed him of illness, claiming that he had undergone a bout of food poisoning and was unable to attend the hearing, which is reportedly the second time that Lekjaa had failed to so do.
Sources indicate that Mouad claimed he had long received the information from Lekjaa but had “forgotten” to pass it on to the DC, before their July 9 hearing began. Mouad was an aide of Lekjaa, at the FRMF, before his CAF appointment.
A letter was also received from Referee Tessema by the CAF secretariat, claiming he had “forgiven” Lekjaa for assaulting him.
But the case, which was filed by the Ethiopian Football Federation – and not Bamelak – was never withdrawn.
“We never received any notice that Lekjaa was sick, before we began our hearings, so how are we supposed to deal with the fact that we are only getting this information from the secretariat, well after we had delivered our verdict?” asks our CAF source, who declined to be named.
“Bearing in mind that we have an obligation to hear all the parties, it left us in an embarrassing and impossible position. There was no way that we, as a disciplinary committee, could continue with this case after that strange notification from the secretariat.
“There was a unanimous decision, by all members of the committee, to hand this case back to the CAF administration, who could reassign the case to another competent body,” he said.
Three CAF executive committee members told Insideworldfootball that Tuesday’s decision only highlights the increasing level of dysfunction in African football’s governing body.
“How can we continue to govern our football in this ridiculous way?” one of them asked.
“In my opinion – and the opinion of the objective public – the facts, in the case of Fouzi, were very clear. A firm decision should have been taken. We are turning ourselves into a laughing stock and this is doing terrible damage to our credibility, as a governing body.”
CAF is yet to issue an official statement, at the time of filing this report.
Contact the writer of this story, Osasu Obayiuwana, at moc.l1563368930labto1563368930ofdlr1563368930owedi1563368930sni@o1563368930fni1563368930