By Osasu Obayiuwana
August 6 – Christian Lagnide, the CEO of Sports Marketing firm LC2, currently in a near $20 million debt dispute with the Confederation of African Football (CAF), says his company is not in violation of its previous TV rights contract with the continental football governing body.
At a stormy May 28 meeting with CAF officials in Dakar, Senegal, Lagnide was told LC2 was obliged to settle the debt, allegedly incurred during the CAF presidency of Issa Hayatou, under whose tenure LC2 secured the contract.
During LC2’s time in charge of selling television rights to FTA (Free-to-Air) national broadcasters across the continent, they were allowed to broadcast Africa Cup of Nations without paying for the rights in full, only to renege on paying the balance, after tournament telecasts ended.
The aggregate sum of unpaid rights fees is what has led to the debt. But Lagnide tells Insideworldfootball that the matter is far more complicated than it has been portrayed.
“My company is being maligned. Left to my lawyer, who has said that I should not say anything, I will not speak to you. But since you have asked questions about this contract, I am going to answer you,” Lagnide began on Monday.
“When we sold rights to broadcasters, we gave them the ability to pay by instalments. But they never paid the balance after broadcasting the games. Unfortunately, we could not collect the balance because we never had support from CAF to enforce payment.
“Rights were subsequently sold to the same broadcasters who had not discharged previous rights fees debts. How could we be in a position to get this money without the support of CAF, which should compel these broadcasters to respect their financial obligations?”
“Contrary to what CAF is saying, we at LC2 do not want a cancellation of the $20m debt. It is CAF that wants a cancellation of the debt. You can tell CAF that I said that,” Lagnide said.
“How can we demand a cancellation of a debt in which LC2 has a financial stake? Does that make sense to anyone?”
Lagnide claims that after his May 28 meeting in Dakar, with CAF officials, they have failed to provide him with a summary of what was discussed.
“Since we met in Dakar, to resolve the current issues, I have been asking CAF to send me a summary of the meeting that we had, so that we agree on the substance of the meeting. But up to now, CAF is yet to do this. Is this normal?”
“I even wrote my own summary and sent to CAF, asking them to confirm that what I wrote was an accurate description of what happened during that meeting. But I am yet to hear from CAF.”
Abdel Bah, CAF’s Director of Television and Marketing, who was a part of the May 28 meeting in Dakar, told Insideworldfootball that he would not respond to Lagnide’s comments.
“I can imagine what Lagnide said, as we spent hours discussing with him, on this topic. But I will not answer any of his comments through the media.”
Bah confirmed that the Insideworldfootball’s previous report of the 28 May meeting, based on internal CAF documents, is accurate.
Contact the writer of this story, Osasu Obayiuwana, at moc.l1566692914labto1566692914ofdlr1566692914owedi1566692914sni@t1566692914catno1566692914c1566692914