By Samindra Kunti in Casablanca, Morocco
February 5 – Edouard Ngaissona from the Central African Republic (CAR) has sparked more controversy and suspicion over football governance in Africa after being elected to the Executive Committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the top table of football decision making in the region.
Ngaissona is accused of holding close ties to the violent anti-Balaka militias. In a reaction to the appointment CAF president Ahmad Ahmad has attempted to minimise the controversy. A FIFA spokesperson said “Ngaissona was declared eligible by the Review Committee for the position as member of the Member Associations Committee in October 2017.”
Ngaissona was the self-declared political co-ordinator of the anti-Balaka militias, but he has denied those ties even though he is listed on Wikipedia as one of the terrorist group’s leaders. He also denied claims by human rights groups that he was involved in atrocities in the CAR.
Ngaisonna refused to speak to Insideworldfootball on the eve of the African Nations Championship final between hosts Morocco and Nigeria, but seemed rather untroubled by all the allegations against him as he posed for multiple photos at the CAF hotel in Casablanca.
Ngaissona’s joins fine company at the decision making table at CAF. Last December, Liberian FA president Musa Bility came under FIFA audit scrutiny after multiple allegations of financial corruption; Sierra Leone’s Isha Johansen, Africa’s only female FA president, has been targeted by Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) back home; in South Africa Danny Jordaan, SAFA boss, has been accused of rape; while Zimbabwe’s Philip Chiyangwa, closely associated with Robert Mugabe’s brutal regime and a key supporter of CAF president Ahmad in his election campaign, has come under investigation for corruption in his home country.
Since the FIFAgate scandal that saw more than 40 football executives and business associates indicted in the US, eligibility and background checks have been buzzwords in the modern world of football officialdom. Though in Africa the rules seems to be more relaxed.
Ngaissona, the FA president in his native CAR, defeated Pierre Alain Mounguengui, the president of the Gabonese Football Federation, by 30 votes to 23. There was one abstention.
He was elected alongside Jamal Jaafri (North Zone), Augustin Senghor (West A Zone) and Sita Sangare (West B Zone), from CAR to its Executive Committee last Friday in Morocco. The other three candidates were elected as sole candidates in their respective zones for slots vacated by members who held a dual position in both the CAF Executive Committee and the FIFA Council.
On Sunday, CAF president called the storm over Ngaissona’s election unwarranted in an interview with the BBC. “This man, I saw in the social media some people trying to destroy him,” said Ahmad. ‘In French we call it, ‘présomption d innocence.’
“I don’t know if these people know that for the integrity checks at FIFA, he passed this integrity check,” explained Ahmad. “He is in the one committee in FIFA in his country – he can occupy a big position. How to talk these kinds of things? For me, I don’t think about these kinds of things.”
Stressing that there is no need to address the situation and review Ngaissona’s election, Ahmad said: “Review for what? In life, in management, you have to review every time, everything. That’s necessary in administration to go up.”
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