By Paul Nicholson
July 17 – It has been a day of long and bloody knives at the Ordinary General Assembly of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) as president Ahmad worked behind the scenes to remove all opposition (perceived and real) from the key decision-making levels of his empire.
In their place has come a group of African officials that looks more amenable to Ahmad and his agenda, but which in other circles might be described as something of a ‘Rogue’s Gallery’ considering the various allegations outstanding against many of them. They are now the Africans charged with curating and nursing African football back to health. Watching on and smiling from the wings was FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Ahmad’s surgery was brutal. Out went first vice president Amaju Pinnick from Nigeria, to be replaced by DR Congo’s Omari Constant. Omari was detained last year as part of a probe into embezzlement in his own country of $1 million of government earmarked for four matches. That case is still unresolved.
Ahmad had prior to the told exco members that Pinnick had to be removed. Ahmad claimed Pinnick was plotting a coup, and was planning to strike after Ahmad’s arrest in Paris last month. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, certainly Pinnick had been reluctant to be critical of Ahmad and only yesterday had supported publicly the FIFA border crossing into CAF with a glossy spin of positivity. Those statements were made the day before his unceremonious demise.
Perhaps even more notable within the hierarhical changes is the elevation of Moroccan FA president Fouzi Lekjaa to second vice president (he was third). Lekjaa failed to turn up for disciplinary proceedings earlier this week over allegations, supported by various witnesses, that he assaulted Ethiopian Referee Bamelak Tessema, after the second leg of the CAF Confederation Cup final in Alexandria, Egypt.
The CAF Disciplinary Committee palmed his hearing off saying its integrity and capacity to deliver a verdict had been “compromised”, which compelled it to withdraw from hearing the case and passing it back to CAF.
Also moving up, after years of trying to climb African football’s greasy pole, is South African Danny Jordaan who becomes CAF’s third vice president. Jordaan is accused of rape in his own country and has never satisfactorily explained the $10 million South African cash that drifted through FIFA and headed towards Concacaf president Jack Warner in the Caribbean in the ‘bad old days’ of football graft.
It delivers a new balance to the top of the CAF leadership that sees two representatives from the Southern African Cosafa sub-region, one from North Africa, but none from the continent’s largest West African region.
There was also change favouring Ahmad on CAF’s executive committee. Incoming is Samir Sobha from the Mauritius FA, as well as Ugandan Moses Magogo – both Ahmad supporters. Magogo won the vote (33 out of 54) to beat Leodegar Tenga. Tenga’s loss will mourned by many outside CAF’s inner sanctum and very likely most in it as one of the few members of the exco with a background that involved participation in the sport at the highest level.
It is a new dawn for Africa football. But there are growing fears that it will prove to be darker than the night just passed.
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