By Paul Nicholson
July 31 – Musa Hassan Bility, the CAF executive committee member banned by FIFA less than 24 hours after filing a complaint to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), has written an Open Letter to the FIFA Council calling into question the governing body’s “weaponised” Ethics committee.
In a hard hitting message he raises questions about the independence and impartiality of the Ethics committee which he says has abused its powers and is “selective” in its application of its powers as it “appears to respond to the political whims of FIFA officials”.
Bility’s 10-year ban and $500,000 fine was delivered by FIFA following his failure to support the decision for a FIFA-CAF cooperation made 10 days ago at Confederation of African Football (CAF) meetings in Cairo which will involve FIFA taking over the running of the affairs of CAF from 1 August 2019.
Before the decision was taken for the FIFA-CAF cooperation, Bility says he was told by FIFA official Mattias Grafstrom, FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s Chief of Staff, that if he did not support FIFA’s intervention in the management of CAF he would be banned. However, Grafstrom allegedly told him that if he issued a press release supporting that co-operation then his ban would go away and he would keep his position (see http://www.insideworldfootball.com/2019/07/26/fifa-waited-5-months-using-ethics-ban-blackmail-bility/).
Bility didn’t back down from his position and was banned July 22, following his CAS complaint. It was a decision that FIFA had sat on for more than five months. The adjudication in the Bility case before FIFA’s Ethics committee was made February 12.
In his letter to the FIFA Council, Bility outlines multiple instances of FIFA’s “selective” Ethics process and, like the European Union before him in 2017 (which he references), questions the integrity and credentials of FIFA’s chief investigator Maria Rojas for the job.
He points to the speed at which the FIFA Ethics committee handed lifetime bans to Qatari Mohammed Bin Hamman and his personal assistant Najeeb Chirakal over bribery allegations dating back to 2009 and the subsequent 2-year ban of Zambian FA President Kalusha Bwalya (later commuted on appeal) “over the same bribery scandal in August 2018.”
But asks “how other football leaders from Africa who featured prominently in the “Bin Hamman list of shame” continue to operate both at CAF and at FIFA, seemingly sure that these FIFA Ethics investigations will NEVER see the light of day.”
Also included in his catalog of FIFA inconsistencies is FIFA’s inaction over CAF President Ahmad Ahmad following his arrest in Paris on 6 June 2019 “over financial breaches while simultaneously having FIFA Ethics investigations over claims of financial impropriety and sexual harassment.
“How do other FIFA Council members feel about sharing the same committee with someone who has been accused of serious crimes like sexual harassment?” he asks.
He also questions how CAF and FIFA “allowed the election of Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona from Central Africa Republic (CAR) to the EXCO despite serious allegations of crimes against humanity during the civil war in that country.”
Ngaissona had been barred from running for CAR President in 2015 for his alleged role in the atrocities and was eventually arrested by French police in December 2018 and is currently awaiting trial in The Hague.
“It would appear that football (especially African football) operates on different set of rules and lower threshold of credibility than the rest of the World,” says Bility.
He concludes his letter by calling on the FIFA Council to “discuss and recommend” Ahmad steps down immediately from the CAF presidency pending investigation, to reconstitute the Ethics Committee with people who have a reputation for competence and independence;
And to review “the skewed order of investigations and adjudications.”
See full transcript of Bility letter below.
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