By Andrew Warshaw
February 8 – Thrown out, surprisingly re-instated, and now apparently thrown out again in a battle for supremacy within African football’s warring factions. The saga over disgraced Confederation of African Football (CAF) chief Ahmad Ahmad’s presidential status has taken another unexpected twist typical of the political shenanigans at the highest level of African football’s heirarchy.
Last week, in a rare and unexpected move, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dramatically reinstated Ahmad as head of the confederation pending a full appeal against his five-year FIFA ban.
CAS said it had granted Ahmad an interim ruling to temporarily freeze the ban, imposed last November, ahead of his appeal hearing on March 2, with a verdict promised before CAF votes for his successor 10 days later.
One interpretation was that technically this meant Ahmad could, after all, stand for re-election on March 12 if CAS throws out his ban. Another was that he would remain ineligible whatever happens by virtue of the fact that the CAS ruling last Friday came well after the deadline for candidates and after their eligibility was rubber-stamped.
Now, in a remarkable manoeuvre amid the increasingly bitter race to succeed Ahmad, CAF’s executive committee has set aside a recommendation by its own Governance Committee to restore Ahmad as a presidential candidate, saying FIFA should have the final say.
On Friday, CAF’s Governance Committee had determined that Ahmad was, after all , eligible to stand in next month’s elections following the afore-mentioned CAS ruling.
Not so, said CAF’s exco meeting at a subsequent stormy meeting 24 hours later. Result? No sooner had the governance committee given Ahmad the green light than the exco effectively over-ruled that. You could hardly make it up.
“The Executive Committee finds the decision of the Governance Committee communicated on 5 February inappropriate,” CAF stated.
According to the BBC, at one point Ahmad – attending his first official event since being banned in November – left the room while his candidacy was discussed.
Ahmad is seeking to join Jacques Anouma (Ivory Coast), Patrice Motsepe (South Africa), Augustin Senghor (Senegal) and Ahmed Yahya (Mauritania) as a candidate even though the deadline has long expired.
The upshot is that CAF’s top brass now want FIFA via its Review Committee to have the final say.
“[The ExCo] recalls that the eligibility check, for candidates for the position of Caf President, is exclusively the responsibility of the FIFA Review Committee,” said CAF.
With FIFA unlikely to rescind its decision to ban Ahmad, it appears the 61-year-old is almost at the end of the road, much to the satisfaction no doubt of his numerous critics.
Unless, of course, CAS miraculously upholds his appeal and rules in his favour. Or unless the election is postponed (apparently something Ahmad’s supporters are trying to bring about) which would allow him to buy time.
Or, finally, unless there are yet more unexpected twists engineered by the conflicting factions at the top of African football.
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