March 30 – Constant Omari is slowly exiting football through the back door. The often controversial but influential official has said he will not stand in the upcoming elections of the Congolese Association Football Federation (FECOFA).
Omari has led FECOFA since 2005, but he won’t run in the FA’s presidential elections in December. In 2017, he was re-elected for four-year mandate to lead FECOFA, but following DR Congo’s elimination from the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and with a FIFA ethics investigation running into him, the administrator seems to have reached the end of the road.
In recent months Omari has become increasingly sidelined from the corridors of powers at continental and international level. He was elected by CAF members to the FIFA Council in 2015, but was this year barred from running again by the world federation for a seat on its powerful council. According to a FIFA letter, the Congolese, who was acting as interim CAF president at the time, failed an integrity and eligibility check because of “an ongoing formal investigation by the FIFA ethics committee.”
Omari had taken on the interim role of CAF president when Ahmad Ahmad was suspended from football by FIFA and subsequently banned for five years, which was later reduced to two years by the Court of Arbitration of Sport. Omari stepped up as next in line as he was CAF’s first vice president.
In 2018, Omari was arrested on suspicion of corruption and held for 24 hours in a public prosecutor’s office in Congo. Officials suspected the FECOFA president of embezzling money given to the federation by the government to fund the Congo national team but no charges were ever pressed.
“I want to be very clear,” said Omari in an interview with Canal+. “I will not be a candidate for the simple reason that I have done a lot at the level of FIFA, at the level of CAF and at the level of the Federation. We must leave it to others, who have the ambitions to be able to continue…”
“My only regret is that if we do not change today what I am decrying, those who will come, whatever qualities they may have, they will not progress and maybe they will sink even more.”
The Leopards participated at the last four continental finals, but failed in this qualifying campaign to progress from a group with Gabon, The Gambia and Angola. Omari says that his federation doesn’t have the resources to revive infrastructure and build the game up, even if FECOFA have received almost $5.5 million from FIFA’s development programs sine 2016.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1618619484labto1618619484ofdlr1618619484owedi1618619484sni@o1618619484fni1618619484