By Paul Nicholson
October 30 – CAF president Ahmad Ahmad has tested positive for the coronavirus and has entered a 14-day period of self isolation in a Cairo hotel.
Ahmad arrived in Egypt on Wednesday and after experiencing “mild flu symptoms” he undertook a Covid-19 test that was returned positive today (Friday).
“All those who have come into contact with Mr. Ahmad over the past seven days – especially during his trip to Morocco for the Confederation Cup – have been informed and requested to take the necessary measures,” said a CAF press release.
It has been an eventful week for Ahmad who announced that following the backing of 46 out of 54 African FA presidents, he would run for a second term as president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
At the same time he made this announcement, stories emerged that FIFA Ethics were close to issuing a decision on the multiple investigations into his presidency. Allegations of financial corruption and sexual harassment have plagued his leadership, including his own detention in France in 2019 to answer questions about supply contracts involving French company Tactical Steel.
FIFA Ethics was in receipt of a number of complaints, including evidence pointing to a misappropriation of CAF money to finance personal pilgrimage trips to the Umrah for muslim presidents, expense claim violations, and statements from females who had been sexually harassed and compromised by Ahmad.
Politically Ahmad has become a super hot potato but to date has remarkably escaped FIFA censure.
As his own executive committee increasingly complained of his dictatorial and non-transparent leadership of the African confederation – particularly regarding financial issues – a motion was passed to ask FIFA to conduct a financial audit.
FIFA’s response was to unilaterally parachute general secretary Fatma Samoura into CAF as their General Delegate for Africa and to run the organisation. During that term the forensic audit by Price WaterhouseCooper was released and highlighted a number of financial irregularities.
FIFA also took the opportunity to reorganise and consolidate African commercial rights while at the same time getting deeply involved in the termination of CAF’s marketing partner Lagardere who were guaranteeing a minimum $1 billion. The FIFA involvement proved disastrous leaving CAF with an abbreviated international calendar, and a financial hole as broadcast and sponsor partners used the instability to renegotiate or exit deals.
For CAF is was a disaster that its executive committee voted to end, and to return Samoura to Zurich after her initial six month term expired.
New evidence of financial irregularities are starting to emerge surrounding an annual $100,000 ‘sweetheart’ grant to member associations that was approved at CAF’s 2017 Congress, and within which $20,000 was to be paid to national association presidents.
Although a brazen attempt to buy the loyalty of the presidents, it appears that not all presidents received their “compensation” amounts from CAF, despite a reminder letter in January 2019 from CAF of the generosity being extended to them.
Ahmad’s immediate challenge is Covid. His next challenges, if rumours that FIFA Ethics are looming are true, will be equally life changing, perhaps in football terms life ending.
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