When FIFA is on the hunt, it has the instincts of a Tiger shadowing its quarry, slowly and methodically.
Africa has become a big bone of contention and the conduct of its confederation and members has become the source of major disagreement between FIFA and several of its other key confederations.
FIFA insiders explained to us how the World Football Governing Body was finally coming to terms with the systemic looting within the African Confederation (CAF) based in large part on the FIFA-commissioned forensic audit by audit firm PWC and the first-hand experiences of its SG and former Special Delegate Fatma Samoura.
The PWC audit of CAF showed the mind-boggling loss of more than $24 million in fake, double or fictitious payments made by CAF top officials.
Madam Samoura discovered that these payments exclusively seemed to occur in cash, meaning that CAF operated 80% of its payments in USD cash payments.
Further that in many cases, senior CAF officials would receive monies in advance of expenditure and eventually end up never either filing their returns or returning the balance of cash after expenditure.
Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of resistance within the CAF Exco membership and some in the CAF Secretariat when Samoura introduced non-cash payments for the simple reason that it allowed CAF to keep a clear and consistent audit-trail of expenses.
By the time the FUTSAL AFCON 2020 was taking place in Morocco and Western Sahara in January, the members of the CAF had become tired of the arrangement and effectively voted in the Exco for the non-renewal of her term as General Delegate for an additional 6 months.
All along, the members of the CAF Exco had been under the illusion that Mme. Samoura was in effect, “one of them” given her close personal relationship with CAF President Ahmad Ahmad, which is one of the reasons that brought her to the FIFA high seat.
At no time did they envisage that her loyalties may become split between “them” and her role as FIFA SG.
Already, several CAF Exco and FIFA Governing Council members are under active investigation by the FIFA Ethics committee for various gross violations of the FIFA Code of Ethics (FCE).
One such person is the immediate former Egypt FA President Hany Abo Rida who is being investigated and prosecuted for using bribery to influence CAF FA Presidents to vote him during the 2017 FIFA Council elections.
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, now likely to be delayed given the global pandemic COVID-19 toll on the entire World.
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 for being too independent.
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.
In a letter dated 13th March 2019, the FIFA Ethics committee investigatory chamber requested Abo Rida to offer collaboration in its gathering of information of its investigation that was spurred on by a September 2017 news article by BBC.
By virtue of his membership to the FIFA Council, Abo Rida is bound by the provisions of Art. 18 (1) and (2) of the FIFA code of Ethics, which deals specifically with cooperation.
However, in the greatest show of defiance, Abo Rida refused to cooperate with the Ethics committee, and bull-headedly declined to share the requested documents.
It has now become apparent that Hany Abo Rida also received a double-payment of funds from CAF totaling $12,600 (2 payments of $7,650 + $4,950) for his 4-week, all-expense paid trip to Russia for the FIFA World Cup 2018.
In that same period, FIFA paid his travel, accommodation, local transport, meals plus a healthy allowance for each day spent in Russia.
How then did CAF justify their payment of $450 daily allowance to a FIFA event for CAF Exco member who also serves on the FIFA Council?
Another FIFA Council and CAF Exco member who is on FIFA’s radar is Guinean Almamy Camara, much for the same reasons as Abo Rida, which is drawing double allocation of allowances for FIFA –funded junkets.
Camara, a 35-year veteran of Guinean and African football, lost a lot of his power and clout with the departure of CAF strongman Issa Hayatou in 2017 and these days is happy to sit through meetings of the CAF and FIFA, while silently drawing allowances as he marks out the time on his long, albeit not-so-illustrious football career.
However, the fact that he is winding down his football career is no justification that he can earn double allowances from both FIFA and CAF for attending a fully funded FIFA event.
Camara apparently signed for a whopping $19,350 from CAF for spending a total of 43 days in Moscow, during the summer of 2018.
Some of the documents missing at CAF relate to the payments that were made to CAF President Ahmad Ahmad and his VP Constant Omari, who are alleged to have received this same double payments.
At the time, FIFA Council member Kwesi Nyantakyi had been axed following an expose by Ghanian undercover journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas in a documentary by the name #12.
So, the reconstruction of the books at CAF continues by PWC and the fact that former CAF GS Mouad Hajji has resigned and escaped to his home in Morocco, in order to evade the probing PWC questions, eventually all the loopholes will be unearthed.
Currently, with little or no football activity anywhere in the World due to the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled by restrictions on travel, even the kleptomaniac CAF mandarins appear to be having a hard time dipping their fingers into the CAF cookie jar…
Will FIFA take down its African quarry with extreme ruthlessness and prejudice?
We can only wait to see, hope and pray…!!