African soccer president seeks re-election amid allegations
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — African soccer confederation president Ahmad Ahmad announced Wednesday he will stand for re-election next year despite a first term littered with problems and reports he is about to be sanctioned by FIFA’s ethics committee.
Ahmad, who is also a FIFA vice president and a member of the FIFA Council, made the announcement on his official Twitter account. He wrote: “I’m proud of my team’s achievements. I extend my thanks and gratitude for your support and assistance.”
The Confederation of African Football’s presidential election is in March. Candidates have until Nov. 12 to submit their papers. On Monday, the presidents of 46 of CAF’s 54 member associations signed a letter backing Ahmad and urging him to stand for re-election, suggesting he still has widespread support among soccer leaders on the continent. No clear challenger has emerged.
Tunisia’s Tarek Bouchamaoui, who is a member of the CAF executive committee and FIFA Council, indicated his intention to stand for president but hasn’t received the required nomination from his national federation.
Ahmad, a politician and former government minister from Madagascar, was a relative unknown at the top levels of African soccer when he won the presidency of CAF in 2017 with a stunning election victory over Issa Hayatou. Hayatou had been in charge for 29 years and was a FIFA veteran and the world body’s senior vice president at the time.
Ahmad promised to root out corruption and impose stricter ethics rules at CAF but was embroiled in a corruption scandal himself last year when he was detained and questioned by French authorities while attending a FIFA meeting in Paris. CAF also became so dysfunctional under his leadership that FIFA sent secretary general Fatma Samoura to CAF headquarters in Cairo for six months to run the troubled African confederation.
Numerous senior officials have resigned during Ahmad’s reign, some of whom accused him of misconduct, and he has been criticized from within his own executive committee.
This year, a confidential audit uncovered extensive financial irregularities at CAF during the presidencies of both Hayatou and Ahmad. Among other concerns, the report named Ahmad as one of 18 officials who appeared to have used around $100,000 of CAF money to go on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
He’s also been accused of corruption relating to CAF’s decision to cancel a contract with an equipment supplier and sign a new, more expensive deal with another company. The allegations are that Ahmad pushed through the new deal and received kickbacks. He has denied any wrongdoing.
In the hours after Ahmad’s announcement on Wednesday, the BBC reported that the 60-year-old CAF president had been found guilty of breaching FIFA’s code of ethics relating to that equipment deal and the body was deciding on his punishment. A ban could make him ineligible for the election.
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