By Osasu Obayiuwana
August 9 – Musa Bility, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Executive Committee member, recently banned for 10 years, by the Adjudicatory Chamber of FIFA’s Ethics Committee, is accusing a key official of the world governing body of strong-arming him, over his refusal to accept FIFA’s direct intervention in CAF’s affairs.
The Liberian claims Mattias Grafstrom, the head of FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s personal office, tried to blackmail him into supporting the plan that saw the emergence of Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s Secretary-General, as its General Delegate for Africa.
“Mattias gave me a statement to read, asking me to address the media, that I was in support of FIFA’s involvement in Africa. He threatened me that should I fail to co-operate, I would have to face the consequences. You have all seen what the consequences are,” Bility told Insideworldfootball on Thursday, during a stopover in London.
“I made it very clear to him, before Infantino met with the CAF executive committee (on July 17) that I would never be a part of any FIFA attempt to colonise Africa.
“The judgement of the Ethics Committee, against me, was prepared on February 12. But this judgement, fully prepared at that time, was not released until July 24. That is more than five months later. Can anyone justify why there was such a long delay in FIFA formally notifying me of a judgement that had been prepared over five months ago?
“Do you think that it was a coincidence that the decision to ban me was made 24 hours after I had filed my case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, to stop FIFA’s intervention in the affairs of CAF?” Bility asks.
“It is very clear, to me, that the Ethics body of FIFA is being weaponised against those who oppose FIFA’s policies. But I refuse to be intimidated by what has happened to me. I am prepared to fight FIFA’s improper intervention in Africa to the very end.
“Even if I lose at CAS, I am also prepared to appeal their verdict at the Swiss Federal Court,” Bility said.
Responding to Bility’s allegations, Grafstrom, in an exchange of messages with this reporter, “strongly denies” blackmailing the former Liberia FA President into supporting FIFA’s current involvement in African football.
“I have never asked Mr Bility or anyone else to read any statement about this topic. I strongly deny this allegation,” Grafstrom began.
“I have never threatened Mr Bility or anyone else with any ethics sanction or with anything else on this topic (or on any other topic during my professional career).”
Bility also claimed that Infantino’s attendance of the July 17 CAF executive committee meeting was in violation of CAF’s statutes, as the Liberian claimed that the approval of he and his colleagues was not duly sought, as prescribed under the CAF statutes.
Grafstrom, who was a part of that meeting, claimed no member of the CAF exco opposed the presence of his boss at the July 17 meeting at the Cairo Marriott hotel.
“Mr Infantino was invited to participate at this CAF Exco meeting, as he has been already, in several cases in the past. I was in attendance during this part of the meeting as well… Mr Bility didn’t raise any concern about Mr Infantino’s presence.
“When Mr Bility took the floor [at the July 17 CAF exco meeting], he praised and commended the initiative of the FIFA – CAF partnership and FIFA’s positive intentions in this respect, as it was also in line with the audit he had requested, at previous CAF Exco meetings.
“His two only concerns were that he felt the audit and the work related to the cooperation agreement should be done by FIFA alone and not together with the CAF leadership.
“He also expressed his doubt that the mission should be led by the FIFA Secretary General.”
Samoura, who began work at CAF’s headquarters in Cairo on August 1 – and will remain in the FIFA General Delegate’s job until January 2020, at the earliest – will oversee an overhaul of its governance procedures, as well as lead a forensic audit of the organisation.
Bility insists that Samoura’s arrival in Cairo is the beginning of what he describes as the execution of a hidden agenda to install Samoura as CAF President.
“Why would the Secretary-General, who is the CEO of FIFA and, under FIFA’s current laws, the person supposed to exercise day-to-day managerial powers, leave the most powerful job in football to run the affairs of CAF? Who exactly does that?
“In my view, [CAF President] Ahmad, who is currently facing a FIFA ethics investigation, for a range of issues, is eventually going to be banned. The evidence against Ahmad is overwhelming.
“Omari Constant, who is now the first Vice-President of CAF, will then take over. Under CAF laws, a presidential election will have to be organised in 120 days, while Omari acts as president.
“But Omari is going to end up being banned as well, because he is guilty of taking double indemnities from CAF and FIFA, to attend the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.”
“When he is out, the way will be paved for Fatma, whom I am certain will not leave CAF, after her original six-month tenure as General Delegate is over, to contest the CAF Presidency.
“Infantino needs Africa, to remain FIFA President when elections are due in four years time. And UEFA is deeply opposed to Infantino’s style of governance, as can be seen from their president’s opposition to the decision regarding CAF.
So, where else can Infantino get the block votes required to be re-elected? And who better than Samoura to ensure Africa falls in line?”
“Africa cannot allow itself to be colonised and I will fight FIFA’s imposition with everything in me, no matter the personal and financial cost,” Bility said.
Contact the writer of this story, Osasu Obayiuwana, at moc.l1566691498labto1566691498ofdlr1566691498owedi1566691498sni@t1566691498catno1566691498c1566691498