February 13 – The Confederation of African Football (CAF) may be in reputational crisis over the revelations in the PwC audit, but it hasn’t stopped it from signing a 10-year hosting agreement to keep its headquarters in Egypt, in a deal that gives the regional governing body diplomatic status in the country.
On Wednesday, CAF President Ahmad Ahmad and Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports Dr. Ashraf Sobhy signed the agreement in the presence of the country’s Prime Minister Dr. Mostafa Madbouly. After speculation that Ahmad would move the CAF HQ from Cairo, with Morocco thought to be his preferred option, the new deal will see CAF headquartered in Egypt for a further 10 years with a renewable option for a further 10.
In a statement CAF said: “The agreement recognizes the international legal personality of CAF as an international non-governmental organization.”
“Under this agreement CAF shall benefit from several advantages, immunities and privileges similar to those granted to international organizations and diplomatic missions. The agreement is for a period of 10 years and shall be automatically renewed.”
The exact scope of the diplomatic immunity is, given the vague wording, ambiguous. CAF, founded in 1957, has its headquarters in the Egyptian capital, but the last hosting agreement expired in 2017.
With the move, CAF has taken a leaf out of the Conmebol and OCA book. The South American governing body enjoyed diplomatic immunity for its headquarters in Asuncion, Paraguay, from 1997 to 2015 when, in the wake of the global FIFA corruption crisis, the local senate voted to strip the offices of the status. The immunity extended solely to the Conmebol building.
The new agreement is a pyrrhic victory for Ahmad. His organisation has been engulfed by the latest major crisis following the PwC audit that exposed chronic and sweeping finance and governance issues at the heart of CAF. The audit described the governing body as “unreliable and not trustworthy”, highlighting transactions in excess of $20 million which either have “little or no supporting documentation” or are considered “higher risk”.
The global auditing firm also recommended that Ahmad’s role in the deal with French company Tactical Steel should be investigated.
The supremo of African football, however, has maintained he is innocent of any wrongdoing.
The confidential audit was carried out on the orders of FIFA and its secretary general Fatma Samoura during her 6-month secondment to Africa – it had already been called for by a small number of CAF executive committee members. Earlier this month, the world federation declared Samoura’s clean-up of the African game was complete as CAF’s executive committee voted not to renew her mandate.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1586464515labto1586464515ofdlr1586464515owedi1586464515sni@o1586464515fni1586464515