We have received massive feedback from our story about FIFA positioning its preferred choice for CAF President after the imminent departure of current President Ahmad Ahmad. That choice is current Senegal FA President Augustin Senghor, and this choice has caused ripples all through the entire African football landscape.
Though shocked at the credible revelations, African FA Presidents tell us that they can now make sense of our story based on the nuances they observed of Senghor and his preferential treatment by FIFA and CAF.
Obviously, Senghor is of great interest to FIFA because he is an arbitrator of the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) since 2012. Obviously with the recent realization that FIFA President Infantino loves to manipulate institutions by using “sleeper agents”, we would hardly be surprised if FIFA elected Senghor as their arbitrator of choice in the Musa Hassan Bility case that is before CAS.
Fellow Swiss and FIFA lackey who also doubles up as CAS CEO Matthieu Reeb would probably ensure Senghor’s nomination despite the obvious conflicts of interest.
Secondly, the African FA Presidents remember Senghors’ disposition when approached in Egypt about the prospect of a vote of no-confidence in the Ahmad administration. He was the only FA President who exhibited open hostility and ambivalence to notion that Ahmad had led CAF to the edge of a precipice,despite all evidence pointing to it.
Shortly thereafter, Senghor was rewarded with three 8.5 maginitude on the Richter scale nominations to CAF committees. He is currently the Chairman of the Legal Committee, the African Nations Championships (CHAN) committee and Co. Chair to the powerful African Cup of Nations (AFCON) committee.
Has Ahmad been feeding the beast that will eventually scuttle his best laid succession plans? Was he aware that Senghor was Infantino’s choice to replace him or does he believe that the CAF-FIFA hostile takeover would somehow save him, and allow him to complete his term of office?
The epicentre of these Senghor revelation ripples must surely be in North Africa, where Ahmad had gone to great lengths to lay ground for the automatic succession to the CAF throne.
At the back of everyone’s mind is the disturbing but legitimate question, can FIFA really knowingly allow CAF leadership to fall in the hands of an Arab? Didn’t the World see Infantino hob-nobbing with US President Trump whose feelings about this subject are well known and much reported.
It is a literal fight for the heart and soul of African football, which ironically is being silently waged by some countries of the Maghreb like Morocco.
During the now infamous Umrah pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia, African FA Presidents who profess the Muslim faith reportedly made a deal with Ahmad about his succession. They had intended for it to be one of their own, with the obvious choice being the FA Presidents of either Morocco or Egypt.
Egypt FA President Hany Abo Rida appears to be past tense now following his resignation after a scandal surrounding the Country hosting of the 2019 AFCON in June-July.
Within the Confederation of African Football (CAF) there is a simmering hostility between two of the leading lights from North Africa over who actually controls the puppet strings to CAF President Ahmad Ahmad, and the larger question of who will (and must) succeed him whenever his term expires, prematurely or otherwise.
Ahmad has turned into a major liability for his benefactors, only 2 years into his historic ascension to the Presidency of CAF, where he ejected former CAF President Issa Hayatou.
It is a poorly kept secret within CAF that Ahmad had neither the resources nor the vision to ascend to the Presidency of CAF. Even worse, even his initial foray into the CAF Exco was backed and funded entirely by others.
His backers and financiers currently feel that Ahmad draws too much unnecessary negative attention to himself, by way of his weaknesses and inclinations.
At his level of leadership, it is expected that care and discretion would be the central ethos of such a leader, in order to protect his image and reputation. A bad reputation, like a bad stench, has a way of rubbing off on those around the leader.
Ahmad’s biggest indiscretion and which has had many tongues wagging is his weakness for members of the opposite sex.
Even before formal accusations were made against him to the FIFA Ethics Committee about the sexual harassment of female employees in CAF, his indiscretions with women have haunted him publicly.
A low-key announcement by Algeria in 2018 gives a pointer as to the seriousness of the Magreb countries in their continued dominance of CAF and African football.
Algeria proposed a 3-way joint bid to FIFA for the hosting of the expanded 48-team FIFA World Cup between Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco in 2030.
It is for the inheritance of this post-Ahmad space that has led to jostling between Tunisia FA President Wadii Al-Jarii and Morocco FA President Fouzi Lekjaa.
The two Presidents believe that they have each sat in the shadows long enough and that it’s time to come out boldly to acquire the CAF Presidency. The credible leak that FIFA’s preferred choice is Senegal’s Augustin Senghor has only served to take matters to fever pitch.
But who exactly is this man Wadii Jarii? A lot has been written about the flamboyant, money-laden Fouzi on multiple channels, but very little is known about the sultry-faced Wadii and his Tunisia FA.
He is known as a quiet, behind-the-scenes operative who first came to head the Tunisian FA in 2012 before being re-elected for a 2nd term in 2016.
Tunisian football has really fallen on hard times and even the revolution of 2011 did little to pound it back into line. The Eagles of Carthage, as the National football team is known continues to face the highest level of fan apathy in an entire generation.
An experimental relocation of the matches of the Carthage Eagles from the city of Monastir to Tunis in 2018, with Wadii hoping that it would ride exquisitely on the return of the Carthage Eagles to the FIFA World Cup backfired badly.
In the domestic league scene, Wadii oversees a highly fractured league whose support is largely based on ethnicity and regionalism, and often likely to flare-up into violence and sometimes death.
The situation was so bad last season that 8 of the 14 clubs from the elite division were forced to play their matches behind closed doors while those that allowed fans, had to endure multiple levels of security searches.
Within CAF, Wadii is the 2nd VP of the influential Africa Nations Championship (CHAN).
To understand where true power in CAF really lies, an innocuous announcement by the Tunisia FA last May, that CAF had accepted to review the goings-on during the return leg encounter pitting RSB Berkane of Morocco versus CS Sfaxien of Tunisia. These were matches of the CAF Confederation Cup.
CSS had won the 1st leg 2-0 at home while Berkane won the return leg 3-0, also at home.
CAF bodies, usually hard pressed to encourage complaints or appeals and normally lethargic in dealing with them, apparently summoned Wadii to Cairo to state his case. Videos shared online appear to support a narrative that the referee in that match – Maguette Ndiaye – was surrounded and attacked by CS Sfaxien players while making his way to the dressing room.
The referee has since denied the claims that he is the one being roughed up in the video.
However, in a snap decision, the CAF Disciplinary committee announced the following week that it had sanctioned 3 of the players in the video with 4-match suspensions while 2 Assistant coaches got 6-match suspensions.
They also been handed the club a $ 40,000 fine.
However, Wadii oversees one of the most diabolical FAs with many domestic complaints.
In 2017, former international referee Néji Jouini announced that he had resigned from CAF officiating duties because Wadii Jarii, the Tunisian FA president continued to hinder his work.
Néji Jouini is a celebrated referee who is known for having refereed three matches in the FIFA World Cup, one in 1990 and two in 1994. Currently, he is the head of the Referees Association of the Qatar Football Association on an unlimited contract and he has vowed not to return to Tunisia for the foreseeable future.
Obviously his immense talents are being utilized by the World Cup hosts -Qatar – to the detriment of Tunisia, who apparently share similar dreams.
Why would the President of an FA stoop to the level where he interferes with the operations of match officials? Unless, of course, the referee in question refused to play ball in interfering with matches, as had become the custom with Tunisian football.
So contemptuous were club officials of referees that in 2017, CS Sfaxien Club Chairman Moncef Khemakhem was suspended for life for twice pinching the buttocks of an Assistants Referee.
Another mind-boggling example of the utter impunity with which Tunisian Football is run came in the form of a video, which showed a defender deliberately moving out of the way, to allow an attacker score the lone goal in the match.
The defender – Hachem Abbes – of Stade Gabèsien (SG) allowed Esperance Sportive de Zarzis (ES Zarzis) to score the goal in what was the final game of the season, an action that allowed both teams to retain their status in the first division the following season, to the detriment of 2 other teams -AS Marsa (ASM) and CS Hammam-Lif(CSHL).
Social media chatter was rife with observations that the Tunisia FA had engineered this lunacy when it appointed the SG manager Mourad Okbi as part of the Tunisian National Team coaching staff, just one week before this crucial encounter.
It is also this tokenism where such a coach can be appointed to the National team that eventually saw Tunisia perform dismally in Moscow 2018, with only a win over, wait for it – PANAMA!
Wadii Al Jari is referred to in a number of unflattering terms back home in Tunisia.
In July 2018 he announced the suspension of 4 members of his regional body who had released a statement suggesting that Wadii was taking critical decisions unilaterally, using the Emergency committee to do so, even when matters were not an “emergency”.
This script sounds very familiar, considering the protestations by CAF Exco member Musa Hassan Bility, that CAF President Ahmad has been doing the exact same thing – using the smaller and more malleable Emergency committee to pass critical decisions, which would ordinarily require the substantive CAF Exco to meet and deliberate upon.
The 4 suspended members complained about the irregular and haphazard organization of friendlies and signing of contracts with partners to the National team in the run-up to Moscow 2018, without reference to the Federal office, which was against their statutes.
They also complained of the unilateral sacking of the Head coach Nabil Maaloul by means of the Emergency committee and despite the fact that the Tunisia FA had extended his contract barely a year earlier, to run until 2022.
As with every authoritarian in African football, Wadii has used the leagues and competitions committees, referees to aid his home team – Ben Guerdane – to rise to the National Ligue 1, while another 6 clubs from the south of the country, miraculously found themselves there as well. This is what his detractors refer to as regionalism.
While Wadii plays his games and schemes at CAF and at the Ministry of Youth & Sport, Tunisian football continues to remain in the periphery.
Tunisia continues to have only one internationally recognized stadium – Rades Stadium, while the old 45,000 seater El Menzah was declared dangerous.
This little fact on its own calls into question the seriousness of the proposed tripartite deal for joint hosting of a FIFA World Cup by Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
In the meantime, CAF continues to be run down by the influence of the likes of the underwhelming Wadii Jari, who would rather bring his brand of National FA politics to this continental body.
It was therefore very telling that FIFA SG Fatma Samoura started her work of improving the governance of CAF in Tunisia even before she formally took office in Cairo in early August 2019. While there, she met with Tunisia FA President Wadii where she inadvertently praised him for his work before holding closed door meeting with him.
The Tunisia FA was livid with CAF for its handling of the Esperance de Tunis (EST) versus Wydad de Casablanca (WAC) fallout during the CAF Champions League final on 31st May 2019 in Tunis.
WAC players walked off the pitch in protest at a decision of the referee denying them an equalizer and when they also realized that VAR technology was unavailable to verify their claims.
Morocco FA President Fouzi Lekjaa engineered things at CAF to have the matter discussed at an Exco meeting in Paris where the most bizzare decision ever was made to replay the match at a neutral venue.
Issues went all the way to CAS who ruled that the CAF Exco had no powers to intervene in a judicial process.
However, during the CAF General Assembly in Cairo in July 2019, Tunisia FA in protest refused to participate in the CAF GA in protest at the harassment and intimidation by the Morocco FA through the CAF GS, Moroccan Mouad Hajji and the CAF Exco, under the guise of the rift between CAF and Esperance Tunis, but it was really the fact that CAF did not wire money to his personal account directly.
In essence, what Tunisia FA were confirming to CAF in the letter below is that $20,000 meant for the development of football in Tunisia, was wired to Wadii Jarii’s personal account, with haste and impunity reminiscent to a dictatorial regime. He is one of the few FA Presidents who did this, as many other of his colleagues viewed the payments as a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
Thus Fatma Samoura’s trip to Tunisia was meant to reassure him that no such sanction will be meted against him, and in exchange, he should vote along the lines of her wishes, plus not pursue a hardline stance in defence of Tunisian club Esperance de Tunis.
Basically Fatma Samoura promised to turn a blind eye on his financial impropriety while Wadii Jarii was ordered to betray his country’s interests.
Meanwhile in Nice, France, a criminal case was opened on September 15th, probing suspicious betting patterns of the Tunisian Premier Division Football.
Three men are suspected on match manipulation where they placed large sums of money as bets on the Ben Guerdane vs Metloaui match played on April 7th, where they knew the outcome of the match in advance. The match was won by Ben Guerdane 1-0 after a penalty kick in the 54th minute.
The bookmaker had recorded nearly 30,000 euros worth of bets on this match, a much larger amount for a first division Tunisian betting patterns. Above all, the bets were focussed exclusively on a victory for Ben Guerdane and had all been placed in physical outlets in Nice, according to the public prosecutor.
One of those arrested includes a member of the family of the head of the National Directorate of Arbitration in the Tunisia Football Association.
Wadii Jarii’s brother is the honorary President of Ben Guerdane Club.