A lot has been inferred of the so-called “Muslim Brotherhood” of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), a group of FA Presidents and CAF Exco members who profess the Islamic faith.
The name is borrowed from an Egyptian, Sunni Islamist religious, political, and social movement that is, or was, considered the largest, best-organized political force in Egypt, with adherents estimated to number between 2 and 2.5 million.
Following the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, it first had great success. It launched a civic political party—the Freedom and Justice Party—to contest elections, where the party won almost half the seats in the 2011–12 parliamentary elections, and its candidate, Mohamed Morsi, won the June 2012 presidential election.
However President Mohammad Morsi was overthrown after mass protests within a year and a crackdown ensued that some have called more damaging to the movement than any “in eight decades”.
The existence and political clout of CAF’s “Muslim Brotherhood” came to the fore following an expose in a dossier by late former CAF GS, Amr Fahmy of an all-expense paid trip for its members for the lesser Hajj (Umrah) to Saudi Arabia in 2018, with these expenses dubiously footed by CAF.
Such pilgrimages are deeply personal religious devotions that Muslim faithful strive to go to, when possible, with the Hajj being one of the 5 pillars that is central to Islamic belief.
The late Amr Fahmy, a devout Muslim himself, had the uncanny ability of seeing through the layers of horse manure presented to CAF by the organizers of this Umrah, for what it really was.
He saw this trip as a manifestation of a political arrangement with the ultimate goal of the disenfranchisement and exclusion of all other CAF members, from the inner sanctum of the organization.
Amr Fahmy likely could not envisage a continent as diverse as Africa and how it could attain the needed synergy and homogeneity when CAF members were being torn apart and repackaged in parochial portions and enclaves.
This is super common in Africa, the 54 members of CAF are often divided and sub-divided in ways that would ensure their complete division and control, by whomever the puppeteer of the day may be.
Previously it was the long-suffering Cameroonian Issa Hayatou and lately, the underwhelming Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad.
To illustrate just how effectively the balkanization of Africa is executed, remember that the African confederation is sub-divided into six (6) FIFA-recognized Zonal Unions, namely COSAFA, CECAFA, UNAF, WAFU A, WAFU B, UNIFFAC and which functionally allows FIFA to pump in an extra $ 6 million dollars annually to these CAF sub-units, supposedly for football development and competitions.
Politically, each of these Zonal Unions is allowed by CAF statutes to “elect” representatives to the CAF Exco, but which in recent times has been shown to be more of a selection instead.
Another method to further sub-divide the African continent is by their colonial languages in this case – English, French, and Arab/Portuguese speakers.
This mode of division is best encapsulated in the elections for the FIFA Council where in 2015 CAF came up with a formula to elect the then 4 members of the Council (then called the FIFA Executive committee) along these lines.
The statutes at the time provided for the CAF President, plus a representative from the English-Speaking, the Francophone, and a shared slot for the Arab/Portuguese speaking countries.
The expansion of the FIFA Exco (now called FIFA Council) membership following the watershed election of Gianni Infantino also expanded the same formula in Africa whose detrimental effect became evident during the mid-term election to replace former Ghana FA President Kwesi Nyantakyi which was held in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm Al Sheikh in September 2018.
The vote was for an English-speaking representative but slyly the rules ensure that the decision for this representative is never exclusively by those from English-speaking regions, but largely influenced by the other language clusters.
The 2018 mid-term election for FIFA Council member pitted South African FA President Dr. Danny Jordaan against little-known Malawi FA President Walter Nyamilandu.
Dr. Jordaan was arguably the best candidate, being as he was the sole person on the continent to have headed and executed the FIFA World Cup (SA 2010) wherein he was the head of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC).
However, CAF President Ahmad was acutely insecure having Jordaan on the FIFA Council for the simple reason that the rest of the council may feel more deference to Jordaan than to him, or that his (Jordaan’s) aptitude may rise to the top (like cream does in tea or coffee), and make him the preferred voice from Africa.
In any case, Ahmad was scared shitless of having Jordaan on the FIFA Council and instead fronted the grossly incompetent and characterless Malawian Walter Nyamilandu, then whipped the Francophone and “Muslim Brotherhood” voters to spurn Jordaan.
The Anglophone voters were left holding their members foolishly at the ballot.
The ascension of an intellectual dwarf like Ahmad to the helm of CAF has coincided with the deepening of these religious and language fault lines in Africa, with the least competent people finding themselves holding critical football positions.
Even the FIFA forensic audit conducted by global audit firm PWC found it extremely irregular that a cluster of select FA Presidents would be taken for a religious pilgrimage at CAF expense and compounded by the lack of the authority of the CAF Exco.
Moreover, it is now generally-accepted that the members of the “Muslim Brotherhood” of CAF represent Ahmads first and last line of defence, happy to support him mindlessly for the simple reason that they share a religious inclination.
To illustrate just how morbidly skewed this reasoning really is, we would give the example of the FIFA elections of 2016 which largely pitted Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino against current Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President, The Bahraini Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.
In this election, Ahmad leveraged the “Muslim Brotherhood” in CAF to mobilize African votes for Gianni Infantino at the expense Shaikh Salman, with whom he ideally shares the Islamic faith.
This religious knife seems to cut only one way, here on the African continent, but never elsewhere, which has led for CAF and its members to be viewed dismally by the other Confederations and especially by Shaikh Salman and his AFC.
Could this be one of the reasons that his own FA, the Bahrain Football Association went against the grain and elected to vote for the United 2026 instead of the more religiously aligned Morocco 2026 bid during the 2018 FIFA Congress in Moscow?
In the current anti-Infantino reality at FIFA, where UEFA and CONMEBOL have banded together and even attempted an audacious vote of no-confidence early this month, the swing vote for that attempt would have been the AFC voters
But who are these nameless, faceless members of the “Muslim Brotherhood” of CAF, who have apparently sold their souls to Ahmad thereby giving him carte blanche to run African football into the ground, while being cheered along by Gianni Infantino and his acolytes at FIFA?
An analysis of the well-known members of the CAF “Muslim brotherhood” indicates that Ahmad has a solid minimum of at least 20 members, which gives him an automatic 37% of the 54 votes in the CAF General Assembly.
These 20-odd members of the brotherhood effectively become his “base” to which he regularly panders. The other numbers he is able marshal by shrewd quid pro quos and outright purchase on a case-by-case basis.
As a starting point, Ahmad and his kitchen cabinet dreamt up the scheme for a permanent periodic bribe to all FA Presidents of CAF, who would receive $20,000 annually directly into their bank accounts. Whilst some refused this money as a matter of principal and an appreciation of what it evidently represented, a critical mass of FA President actively chased down these payments.
The PWC audit has flagged these payments for the illegalities that they are, regardless of whether they were approved by the CAF General Assembly, it all amounts to criminal conspiracy to defraud CAF of its money.
From the analysis, we see that Ahmad has also rewarded members of the brotherhood with 7 slots in the CAF Exco, out of the stipulated 13 (by statutes).
This became self-evident following the last Exco elections in July 2019 where he leveraged his base to vote in his preferred candidates Moses Magogo (CECAFA), Mohammed Ally Sobha (COSAFA) and Abdulhakim Al Shalmani (UNAF).
Their opponents didn’t stand a chance!
Ahmad has also brought in another member of the “Muslim Brotherhood” into the CAF Exco through the co-option route, in this case Mauritania FA President Ahmed Yahya
Such a high number of loyalists in the CAF Exco allows Ahmad to leverage them to devastating effect as was evidenced by the February 1st CAF Exco meeting in Sale, Morocco which was attended by FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
Much to his surprise and dismay, Infantino faced open hostility from previously docile Exco members when he was openly berated by new brotherhood members Sobha and Sita Sangare over his proposal to extend the stay of FIFA SG for an additional 6 months as special delegate.
If Infantino didn’t know, then he probably does now. The entire episode was choreographed by Ahmad who was facing a lot of internal political pressure over Mme. Samoura’s continued stay and her radical changes in CAF, including stopping the use of cash to make payments.
But even within the “Muslim brotherhood” of CAF there exists a huge disparity between members and their contribution to the continental football.
The analysis shows that members of the UNAF zonal Union have the upper hand within Africa, with the highest FIFA rankings on the one hand and most appearances at the AFCON, averaging 19 such appearances.
Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt (and even war-torn Libya wield immense football clout on the continent by dint of their on-field performances in both National team and club continental appearances.
Conversely, 5 member countries of the “Muslim Brotherhood” have had zero/zilch, nil appearances at the AFCON since its inception (these are Somalia, Djibouti, Chad, Gambia and Comoros) whilst another 3 members of the brotherhood have made a solitary appearance ( Mauritius, Mauritania and Madagascar).
Niger, Libya and Uganda round up the list of the 10 members who comprise the “who’s fooling whom” segment of the Muslim Brotherhood, with 2, 3 and 7 appearances respectively.
It is therefore easy to infer from this analysis, that while a handful of FAs and their Presidents are highly motivated to be part of the “Muslim Brotherhood” in order to protect their hard fought gains and interests, a huge segment of them apparently simply came along for the ride and the personal benefits that accrue from such an association.
And there doesn’t seem to be an end to personal benefits in Ahmad’s CAF when you consider that these “brotherhood” members may also be doing double-duty in the CAF Exco, triple-duty in their Zonal Unions, quadruple-duty in CAF committees, while also moonlighting in the CAF General Assembly all of which have highly regimented and pre-approved slew of allowances and per diems.
Worse, for the last couple of years it has become standard procedure for brown envelopes to exchange hands during General Assemblies or slid under their hotel room doors in the middle of the night, as was discovered in Khartoum some years back.
This is even before you consider that they are the custodians of the ever-expanding FIFA Forward 2.0 grants in their own FAs, whose top leadership (of FIFA) sees, hears and speaks no evil where looting of the FA coffers is concerned.
To be so lucky in this day and age, unaccountable to anyone and being an FA President has become the equivalent of buying stock in blue-chip companies like Apple and Microsoft, where dividends follow you to your bedroom as you sleep.
Did these clowns somehow manage to bribe God, and the knowledge of how to do this seems to have eluded the rest of humanity?
But Ahmad has ingrained a dangerous disease in Africa, over and above being the most divisive character in an Armani suit, he has shown the low-ranking members of the “Muslim Brotherhood” that it is okay not to invest in their football, and instead pocket the funds meant for millions of their youth.
After they are done, they can then all accompany each other for a sin-cleansing, guilt-removing Umrah, to Islam’s holiest sites.
While there, and as they make dua asking Allah to forgive them their transgressions, they laugh…he apparently has no other work!