April 15, 2019 / 1:14 PM / 6 months ago

African football whistleblower fired after accusing boss of corruption

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - African football’s ruling body has fired a senior official after he made corruption accusations against the organisation’s president in a potential blow to FIFA’s efforts to clean up the game after a raft of scandals worldwide.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Africa Cup of Nations Draw - The Great Pyramids, Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt - April 12, 2019 Confederation of African Football President Ahmad Ahmad during the draw REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) sacked general secretary Amr Fahmy after the Egyptian accused his boss Ahmad Ahmad of bribes and misuse of hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to officials and an internal document.

The document, sent on March 31 by Fahmy to a FIFA investigations committee and seen by Reuters, accuses Ahmad of ordering his secretary-general to pay $20,000 (£15,256) bribes into accounts of African football association presidents.

They included Cape Verde and Tanzania.

The document also accused Ahmad of costing CAF an extra $830,000 by ordering equipment via a French intermediary company called Tactical Steel.

Furthermore, it accuses him of harassing four female CAF staff, whom it did not name; violating statutes to increase Moroccan representation within the organisation; and over-spending more than $400,000 of CAF money on cars in Egypt and Madagascar, where a satellite office has been set up for him.

Senior CAF officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Fahmy was fired in reprisal for compiling the document with the allegations against Ahmad, from Madagascar, who took the top African football post two years ago.

CAF confirmed to Reuters that Fahmy lost his job at an executive committee meeting in Cairo on Thursday, prior to the draw for the Africa Cup of Nations finals.

It declined to give more details about the reason for his dismissal. “There’s no explanation. It’s the Executive Committee decision,” communications director Nathalie Rabe said in an email exchange with Reuters on Sunday.

FRENCH FIRM DENIES IMPROPRIETY

Ahmad, who is also a vice-president of world governing body FIFA, did not respond to requests for comment on the allegations against him.

Requests for comment to the football presidents and authorities of Cape Verde and Tanzania were also not immediately answered.

Sabine Seillier, president of Tactical Steel, said her company won the contract with CAF because it was the only group that could guarantee delivery of the equipment sought in a tight timeframe of three weeks.

Asked if Tactical Steel has been involved in kickbacks to Ahmad or his associates, Seillier said: “Absolutely not. Tactical Steel complies with French law.”

Seillier said her husband’s friendship with an acquaintance of Ahmad had nothing to do with winning the order.

The allegations against Ahmad follow a string of scandals related to FIFA’s practices in Latin America and Asia in recent years, which have led to the indictment and jailing of numerous senior football administrators.

The corruption scandals first broke in 2015.

The CAF case is potentially problematic for FIFA president Gianni Infantino - set to be re-elected unopposed in June for a four-year term - as Ahmad is one of his deputies.

FIFA declined comment.

Slideshow (2 Images)

“The Ethics Committee does not comment on potential ongoing proceedings nor on whether or not investigations are underway into alleged ethics cases,” a spokesperson said.

Ahmad, 59, served as Minister of Fisheries in Madagascar and in the country’s senate before a quick rise to the CAF presidency. His accuser Fahmy, 35, was appointed as general secretary in late 2017, keeping up a family tradition that stretches across three generations.

Fahmy was replaced by Mouad Hajji, from Morocco.

Reporting By Mark Gleeson; Additional reporting by Luke Baker and Richard Lough in Paris; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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