FIFA’s ethics commission suspended President Ahmad for five years, particularly for embezzlement. Arrived at the head of CAF 2017 to everyone’s surprise, he will not be able to complete his mandate. Return to a sawtooth course at the helm of CAF.
It is an eviction that marks the premature end of a chaotic mandate and a divorce between Ahmad and Gianni Infantino, president of Fifa, against the backdrop of a slamming door.
On February 2, Gianni Infantino left the Moroccan national football center where the CAF’s executive committee was held with a closed face and clenched teeth. FIFA’s president could not digest the insult. In fact, former Secretary-General Fatma Samoura had not been extended by CAF’s Executive Office.
Reforms to satisfy Fifa
Six months earlier, the Senegalese had arrived with great fanfare, officially to speed up the CAF reform process. An “under guardianship”, then unofficially cracked members of the union, and an event that constituted a first breaking point between Ahmad and Infantino.
But in 2017, Infantino had given discreet but decisive support to the former Malagasy politician in his candidacy against the almighty Issa Hayatou, in place for almost 30 years.
With this support, after his election, Ahmad had vigorously embarked on major reforms and went so far as to move the CAN to June-July and increase it to 24 teams during his first months in office. Important changes, but obviously not enough for Fifa.
Because Gianni Infantino, very involved in African issues, appealed in November 2019 in Lubumbashi to the DRC to create an African Super League with 20 clubs to replace the Champions League. FIFA’s president also pressed for CAN to be questioned every four years. He had defended this position, just in February last year, in Rabat, before the presidents of the federation. Fifa, which, less than a year later, therefore ends the mandate of the one who saw himself as a reformer of the CAF.
“Fifa is very powerful, it releases nothing”
In January 2020, in Hurghada, Egypt, the day after the coronation of Senegalese Sadio Mané was named African Player of the Year, President Ahmad agreed to respond to the RFI. His communications adviser insisted that he be questioned about all the work done since his arrival. Ahmad had surprised us. “During my campaign, you all thought I was ‘a puppet’ and that I would never be elected,” he blasted a little annoyed after a visibly short night’s sleep. He ended our interview with: “I will be judged by my actions.” He did not have time to defend his record when he expected to run a second period.
Six months earlier, during CAN 2019 in Egypt, a close friend of Ahmad, by microphone, had indicated that the president was not really aware of the position he occupied. “I think he handles CAF when he handled his political affairs in Madagascar. I do not know if he really understood that Fifa is very powerful and that it does not release anything. Premonitory?
In 2014, the Sunday Times claimed that the former Secretary of State for Sports, then Minister of Fisheries and finally Vice President of the Senate in his country had experienced a bribe in the distribution of the cup. world 2022 in Qatar. According to the British newspaper, the leader would have received between 28,000 and 93,000 euros in exchange for his vote in favor of the small emirate. What has never been proven until now.
But from his arrival as head of the CAF, Ahmad’s program was based on change and openness in the department’s management. A discreet man, Ahmad had won his duel with Issa Hayatou by relying in particular on the votes of the 14 member states of the countries of South Africa.