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Isha Johansen

African soccer official wants meeting over leaked letters

AP | A member of African soccer’s ruling executive committee warned of a situation “spiraling out of control” if sharp internal criticism of the organization’s president, who is also a FIFA vice president, isn’t dealt with.

Isha Johansen of Sierra Leone wrote to her Confederation of African Football executive committee colleagues on Saturday to request an urgent meeting after two leaked letters from another executive committee member accused CAF president Ahmad of violating financial procedures and adopting a dictatorial style at the African soccer body.

Johansen wrote “we are sitting on what I believe strongly has the potential of spiraling out of control” in a letter addressed to Ahmad and the rest of the executive committee and obtained by The Associated Press.

She also questioned the lack of response from the executive committee to the now-public criticism of Ahmad, calling it a “deafening silence.”

“Am I the only one feeling that there is a storm behind this calm?” Johansen wrote.

Johansen’s plea for action — and for the executive committee to come together — came after the two letters over the last week from fellow executive Musa Bility of Liberia, in which he resigned from two of his other committee positions within CAF and criticized president Ahmad for taking the organization in the “wrong direction.”

On Friday, Bility was the first to call for an urgent executive committee meeting to investigate what he called Ahmad’s “violations” of CAF’s financial and other procedures.

One of Bility’s concerns was the recent announcement of a major sponsorship deal CAF agreed with sports betting company 1xBet, and which he said happened without the approval of the executive committee.

But CAF handed control of the sale of commercial rights to the Lagardere Sports agency, with the latest deal running 2017-2028. That agreement, signed in 2015 by Ahmad’s predecessor, Issa Hayatou, and before Bility joined the executive committee, makes it unclear if CAF’s executive committee has any say over commercial deals.

Bility also raised the issue of CAF awarding the 2021 African Cup of Nations tournament to Cameroon, which was stripped of this year’s edition for not being ready in time. Ahmad announced Cameroon would have the 2021 tournament instead, incensing officials from Ivory Coast, which had already been awarded that version.

Ahmad eventually persuaded Ivory Coast and Guinea to each delay their hosting of Africa’s top tournament by two years — by directly lobbying the countries’ presidents — to create a new schedule and allow Cameroon to have it in 2021. There was seemingly no formal process within CAF to change the tournaments.

In an attack on Ahmad’s leadership style, Bility claimed Ahmad has told him: “I’m the president and I do as I want.”

Ahmad, who is from Madagascar and goes by one name, ended Hayatou’s 29-year reign as the head of African soccer in an election in 2017, a highly surprising result that removed one of FIFA’s old guard from power and saw Ahmad take his place as a FIFA VP. At the time, Hayatou was the longest-serving member of FIFA’s executive committee.

One of Ahmad’s campaign promises was to make CAF’s financial deals more transparent and its leadership more accountable.

Bility, a former head of the Liberian soccer association, has a history of challenging authority at CAF. He was suspended by the body for six months in 2013 when he protested against rule changes ushered through that allowed then-president Hayatou to stand unopposed for re-election.

Bility sought the FIFA presidency but he was blocked from standing in the 2016 election won by Gianni Infantino after failing an integrity check.

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7 comments

  1. football is pure distraction in africa.agriculture,industry,science and technology must be at the center of our soceity,if we are to catch up and surpass others economically,technically and scientifically.

    • There is dignity in focusing on the problem at hand without digressing and overwhelming it with irrelevances or non sequiturs!

  2. African leaders has to step up. It’s due pass time for us to unite and make mother Africa a land to beacon on. We can do it. This caf thing should Waite.

    • Unite Africa? You make me laugh. Can you unite Cameroon? You can’t even accommodate the diversity of I be small group of Anglophones how much more the 700 million other Anglophones across the continent?

  3. I said it earlier on this forum that it appears Biya gave Ahmed chop money. You don’t stick your neck out as he is doing for nothing. This guy talks from both sides of his mouth and thinks he is sleek. There is always a trail out there; email, phone records, bank accounts, surveillance equipment etc. You will be caught sooner or later. Beware!

  4. How on earth can any executive committee of anything not have responsibility ,duty and due diligence factors ( ie they can be sacked and sued )if the commercial agreement is not beneficial to the outfit they are representing???whats their excuse ? oh well ive got nothing to do with it ! Do Bayern,manchester city and arsnel united managing committee have such a non commitl mandate from their fans and bankers? If the executive committee dont review both lag and ibet contracts and make a press conference explaining why they have been negligent and how they are to better the situation within the week ,otherwise ,they should all be given the sack and infintino with bility and johansen can do all their jobs until he finds decent replacements .

  5. So long as the headquarters of FIFA remain in Switzerland, the corruption index in all Federations will remain high. Its the ghost of Blatter> Infantino is a small coconut farmer in Madagascar, what the hell does he know about soccer? A Nigerian or Egyptian should be on that seat.