Musical chairs: CAF moves swiftly to appoint Bah as acting general secretary

By Paul Nicholson

March 4 – The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has appointed commercial director Abdelmounaïm Bah as Acting General Secretary following the surprise resignation of fellow Moroccan Mouad Hajji yesterday. 

The decision to promote Bah was made at an Emergency Committee meeting with committee members expressing “full confidence in Bah who has exhibited good qualities since joining CAF, particularly during the Total Africa Cup of Nations Egypt 2019.”

Bah, has assumed the post immediately, and will continue as both Acting Secretary General and Commercial Director until CAF’s next Executive Committee meeting.

In February Bah told Insideworldfootball that he was resigning from his CAF post. “It (the resignation) is for personal reasons, in order to have more time with the family,” Bah said.

“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.

With CAF in constitutional and commercial crisis, Bah will have his work cut out maintaining an organisation that the recent Pricewaterhouse Coopers audit said was “understaffed”, whiles its employees were “overworked” and “demotivated”.

Perhaps more concerning from Bah’s commercial perspective is the cancellation of the Lagardere $1 billion commercial rights contract and the subsequent legal battles, and the FIFA-led pan-African placing of 2022 World Cup qualification broadcast rights into FIFA’s sales departments, rights that were traditionally sold by national associations. The result backfiring on FIFA and CAF with a significant number of games not getting broadcast coverage and the governing bodies having to postpone qualifiers until the end of the year as deals are desperately sought.

It is not clear, with this chaotic backdrop, whether Bah will continue with his resignation or whether Ahmad and his executive committee will try and persuade him to remain with the organisation.

CAF has recognised certain shortfalls – though it does seem to be living in denial – and under FIFA protection – as regards the PwC report and the suspected financial corruption reported within it.

CAF has announced a reform plan – Transform CAF 2021 – which commits the organisation to a programme of change. “The systematic, inclusive, and transparent ‘Transform 2021’ approach will ensure the success of this ambitious roadmap. All expertise and goodwill will be called upon to contribute to the development of this new CAF which will meet the legitimate expectations of African football fans around the world,” said CAF in a press release last month.

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