CAF in crisis: Exco disagree on FIFA takeover as late board papers railroad decision making

By Osasu Obayiuwana in Cairo, Egypt

July 17 – The Confederation of African Football, (CAF), will, on Wednesday, have what will be, arguably, its most difficult Executive Committee (Exco) session since Madagascar’s Ahmad was elected CAF President in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in March 2017. 

With FIFA President Gianni Infantino expected to be in attendance at the Cairo Marriott Hotel session, several members of the Exco have told Insideworldfootball that they will strongly resist the plan for Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s Secretary General, to become involved in the day-to-day management of CAF.

Such an arrangement has never taken place between FIFA and any confederation, in the world governing body’s 115-year history.

Under a proposal agreed between FIFA’s Infantino and CAF’s Ahmad, Samoura, as FIFA’s ‘Delegate for Africa’ will be involved in CAF’s governance overhaul, its day-to-day management, as well as spearhead a forensic audit of the body, between August 1 and 31 January 2020.

“We cannot accept the imposition of anyone from outside CAF, to resolve our governance problems,” says Liberia’s Hassan Musa Bility, a member of the CAF executive, told Insideworldfootball.

“We have been elected to manage and resolve the problems of African football. It is imperative that we live up to our responsibility to the continent. We are not stupid people on the executive committee.

“It will be very shameful for us to say that we cannot, as a group of 22 people, manage the affairs of African football.

“I do not want to be a part of any group that says this to the people of Africa.

“I am very conscious about what this would say about my character, as a leader of African football. It is something that I cannot just swallow,” Bility said.

But CAF President Ahmad, who spoke to Insideworldfootball on Saturday, claims that his proposal – to have Samoura spend six months in Cairo – is in the best interest of CAF.

“Let FIFA come and let Fatma [Samoura] begin her work on the first day of August and we shall see,” Ahmad told Insideworldfootball.

“I am the one that asked FIFA to audit CAF, in order to see if there are things that are wrong in CAF.

“I want an independent person to examine our finances. Why are people afraid of FIFA coming to CAF and examining our books?

“We are going to approve the coming of Fatma during our next Ordinary General Assembly (which takes place at the Cairo Marriott on July 18, a day before the Africa Cup of Nations Final) and we shall take things from there,” the CAF President said.

But Bility, as well as other members of the CAF executive committee, like Tanzania’s Leodegar Tenga, said that English-speaking executive committee members have not been given time to study the proposals, before FIFA announced, on June 20, that a deal had been done with CAF.

“There is no doubt that at our Exco Meeting yesterday (on Wednesday, June 20), we unanimously agreed that, in principle, we do agree to the cooperation between FIFA and CAF would lead to promoting integrity, ethical practice and Fair Play and eradicating corruption,” said the Tanzanian, in a private WhatsApp note to his Exco colleagues.

“But we also agreed that Exco members would be given time to go through the proposed text and come up with the details of the cooperation,” Tenga said.

“We, the English speakers [of the CAF Exco] requested to be given the English version of the document and we were promised that it would be delivered to us soonest possible.

“Finally, it was agreed that the matter would be discussed at the forthcoming Exco Meeting (of 17th July, one day before the Ordinary General Assembly) where details and mode of cooperation would be sorted out.”

But Bility told Insideworldfootball that the CAF Exco needs more time to properly study the proposals made to it and articulate a response that is in the best interests of African football.

Insideworldfootball is aware that CAF Exco members collected briefing papers for today’s meeting on Tuesday.

“We, as members of the CAF executive committee, cannot be expected to rubber-stamp anything that is just put before us. We must do our jobs properly and discharge our responsibility,” Bility said.

But a FIFA official told Insideworldfootball that repeated accusations directed at the world governing body – that it has a patronising, disrespectful and colonial attitude towards Africa, which many feel has informed its decision to send Samoura to CAF – are not true.

“From what I hear, if serious governance reform does not take place now, there is a great risk of CAF going bankrupt in a few years. Should FIFA stand by and allow this happen?”

“It is clear that there are problems within CAF and they do not seem to have the capacity to solve it. There is no intention to turn CAF into a FIFA colony. All we want to do is to help African football realise its potential,” he said.

Should the CAF Exco approve FIFA’s direct intervention in its affairs, the proposal must receive the seal of approval of its General Assembly, when it meets on Thursday.

But even the legality of the General Assembly is in doubt, because the required statutory notice period of 120 days was not given to CAF’s 54 member associations, as Elvis Chetty, President of the Seychelles FA, and an experienced lawyer, has observed.

“CAF’s statutes direct the manner by which an Ordinary General Assembly (OGA) or Extraordinary General Assembly (EGA) is called.

“For an OGA, they provide for 120 days notice. There are no provisions within the statutes providing for or condoning late notice,” Chetty told Insideworldfootball.

“If a member association chooses to challenge its decisions before CAS, because the notice period given [for the OGA] was not in conformity with the period provided for, I am of the opinion they will have a good chance of success.”

Contact the writer of this story, Osasu moc.l1708919972labto1708919972ofdlr1708919972owedi1708919972sni@a1708919972nawui1708919972yabO1708919972