By Osasu Obayiuwana
February 16 – As the Confederation of African Football (CAF) continues to deal with the unsavoury revelations emanating from the PwC forensic audit of its finances and governance practices, the organisation is set to lose two of its key directors.
Marketing Director Abdel Bah and Achta Saleh, Director of Legal Affairs, have informed Mouad Hadji, CAF’s General Secretary, of their intention to leave the continental football governing body.
“It (the resignation) is for personal reasons, in order to have more time with the family,” Bah told Insideworldfootball on Friday.
“I will remain fully available to the CAF administration, to assist when needed… I will make sure I prepare proper handover [notes] for my successor. The institution is strong and we have a lot of committed people [to carry on the work],” he said.
The decision of Bah to resign is certain to strike a wrong note with CAF’s commercial partners, who have great respect for his performance in the role, even in the thick of the political fog that engulfs the organisation.
“Family reasons” are also being cited as the reason for Saleh’s impending resignation.
The loss of the pair only adds to CAF’s staffing woes. African football’s governing body has been without a Communications Director since July – when Nathalie Rabe left the organisation – as well as a substantive Finance Director, after Mohamed El-Sherei was sacked, in the same month. El-Sherei was eventually replaced by Egyptian Sheriff Elkhandem at the end of January
The lack of key staff has had a serious impact on the efficiency of the organisation in recent months.
Journalists have found it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to obtain information from CAF on important matters affecting the organisation, while the failure of the finance department, to pay referees and other match officials, involved in the Champions’ League and Confederation Cup, now at the quarter-finals stages, which begins in 11 days, is causing deep disaffection with the organisation.
“We ask CAF to be paid and the accounts department keeps telling us that our money is on the way. But the money never comes. Why should I have to keep phoning CAF to get my money?” one of the match co-ordinators told IWF.
“Does CAF realise that by not paying officials their allowances, they are making them susceptible to corruption and bribe-taking? We are at the quarter-finals stage [of the club competitions]. Clubs could offer referees big money (to manipulate or fix matches), knowing their financial situation,” the person pointed out.
“Some referees have not been paid their allowances for six months now. But there are others, who are not on the elite list, that have not been paid for up to three years. This is the reality,” the person claimed.
A senior member of the CAF hierarchy told Insideworldfootball that the political battles between the organisation’s leading political figures has seriously damaged morale amongst its 70-plus staff.
“In the midst of the in-fighting between the members of the CAF executive committee, many people forget that the staff exist and have to function in this environment. We are collateral damage,” the source said.
“Many of us in the organisation are just here because we love football and want to help African football improve. We did not come here to get involved in the political battles raging on.”
Meanwhile, CAF President Ahmad and his adviser, Samuel Eto’o, the former Barcelona striker and multiple African Footballer of the Year winner, were in Kigali, Rwanda, on Saturday, to inspect the Amahoro Stadium, reportedly in contention to host this year’s Champions’ League final, the first to be a single-game event at a neutral venue.
The new format is a consequence of last’s year’s controversy in Tunis’s Rades Stadium, where the final between Esperance and Wydad Casablanca was abandoned.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org