Hany Abo Rida, the toxic former FA President for the Egyptian Football Association finally crawled out of the woodwork after a lay-off of several months, following his acrimonious departure from the EFA Presidency last July.
We saw him accompany CAF President Ahmad Ahmad and FIFA SG Fatma Samoura on a tour of South Sudan last week, while accompanied also by the now-marked Djibouti FA President Souleiman Waberi.
Abo Rida abruptly resigned from EFA Presidency several hours after the defeat and exit of the Egyptian National Football team (The Pharaohs) by South Africa’s Bafana Bafana, from the round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) hosted by Egypt last July.
While announcing his resignation, he also sacked the entire technical bench led by Head coach Javier Aguirre while calling on the members of his own EFA Exco to follow suit and resign.
In a classic case of the “law of unintended consequences”, sources within the Egyptian Government confirmed that a probe would be conducted into the affairs of the EFA with a view to confirming the existence of high level corruption.
The Egyptian Government was at a loss to explain the dismal performance of The Pharaohs despite the unlimited financial and infrastructural support accorded to the EFA, including but not limited to the unanticipated decision to host the 2019 AFCON after it was taken away from Cameroon when it became clear that it was unprepared to host the flagship CAF event.
Following the resignation of Abo Rida and his entire executive, FIFA appointed 5-person Normalization committee which will, among other things, prepare for election no later than July 31st 2020. The committee is comprised of;
Mr Amr Youssef Hassan El Ganainy (chairman)
Mr Gamal Mohamed Ali (deputy chairman)
Ms Sahar Abdel Hak Ahmed (member)
Mr Mohamed Fadl Zahran (member)
Mr Ahmed Abdallah Rady (member)
Just to underscore the resolve of Egyptians to get to the bottom of this corruption conundrum at EFA, Lawyer Ayman Mahfouz filed a lawsuit to Attorney General Nabil Sadik against the Egyptian Football Federation officials because of the Egyptian team’s departure from the African Cup of Nations after hiring a coach for millions of dollars.
According to the lawsuit, Mahfouz confirmed that Egyptian Football Association President Hany Abo Rida and many board members are not exempted from legal liability, in accordance with article 119 of the Egyptian Penal Code.
He demanded an investigation into these charges, which include wasting public money, and called for the banning the officials of the Football Association from travelling.
The latter part of this request came following the public outcry after pictures leaked of EFA officials travelling by private jet to the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia, where their team had a disastrous outing, despite making a return after 30-odd years.
It must be noted that Abo Rida had been a board member of the Egyptian FA since 1989 (a whopping 30 years) and on the FIFA Council since 2009.
It was the latest re-election in May 2017 that has become the focus of a FIFA Ethics committee investigation.
In a CAF vote held in Bahrain, Abo Rida “beat” former Senior Development Manager for Africa at FIFA, Cameroon’s Zelkifli Ngoufonja by 50 votes to 4.
Ngoufonja alleged that Abo Rida had thrown a party where he flew in other delegations from the other federations which would be a violation of the principles under which elections should take place.
These were the words of Portuguese Miguel Maduro, who was then the chair of FIFA’s Governance Committee, and later sacked by FIFA President Infantino.
Maduro made these damning comments before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee at the House of Commons in England.
Apparently, the Egyptian FA, hosted a party – described as a ‘celebration ceremony’ to welcome then recently-elected CAF President Ahmad – in Cairo, where African football’s body is based.
The gathering was attended by several African football association presidents and Arab Football Union members as well, with an arranged visit to the pyramids of Giza the following day.
The event had apparently been organized by the Egyptian FA’s main sponsor, who then flew the African and Arab delegates to Bahrain on a private jet.
Ngoufounja later said that he only received official confirmation that he could stand in the elections three days before the election and that on Election Day, delegates were told that he had been admitted only provisionally – pending an eligibility check – and that even if he won, he might still fail an eligibility check!
Ominously, Ngoufounja had been relieved of his duties to make way for Infantino’s former classmate and personal friend Veron Mosengo-Omba to the post, to underscore the nepotism and cronyism that Infantino introduced to FIFA.
Obviously, FIFA has been under a lot of pressure in Europe where it has further lost a lot of credibility due to its acts of omission or commission. Top on the list was the abrupt sacking of the highly respected Ethics committee heads Hans-Joachim Eckhert and Cornel Borberly alongside Governance committee head Miguel Maduro.
Their replacements have only gone ahead to reinforce the claims made by Maduro to the House committee in England that FIFA has a culture of governance that is “a system of rules without the rule of law” and that “half of the governance committee are currently not independent, as required”.
Almost two years since the complaints made about the conduct of Hany Abo Rida to the FIFA Ethics and Governance committees, the investigatory chamber finally and grudgingly sent him a letter dated 13th March 2019, seeking his written statement on the claims about influencing the outcome of the FIFA Council seat vote in May 2017.
Remember, Abo Rida was an influential member of the notorious “muslim brotherhood” within CAF which was taken on a fully paid pilgrimage to Mecca by Ahmad on CAF funds.
South Africa, who were seen as the enemy early 2019 were not even considered for hosting of the 2019 AFCON, which was granted to Egypt.
As part of this award of the hosting rights, CAF emergency committee opaquely agreed to grant EFA USD 1 million for preparations despite the fact that the Egyptian Government had underwritten all expenses.
Where did this USD 1 million disappear to?
Did Egypt get its share of the revenues generated from the commercial activities of the AFCON like all other hosts have done previously?
Was the USD 1 million advanced to EFA deducted from these monies or did it disappear into the black hole of EFA corruption as alluded by the lawyer who has sought criminal probe into the affairs of the EFA?
Finally, with close to two dozen African FA Presidents present in Cairo for the supposed bribe-fest in order to vote for Abo Rida, wouldn’t a guilty verdict also mean that they were guilty as well, just as in the Mohammed Bin Hamman fiasco of 2008?
Does the FIFA Ethics committee have the balls to indict everyone present at these event for bribery and help drain the African swamp in one fell swoop?