Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Ahmad Ahmad fired his deputy Amaju Pinnick on Thursday just as global governing body FIFA was releasing details of a road map to put the crisis-hit organisation back on its feet.
Ahmad, who is being investigated by FIFA’s ethics committee for alleged corruption, sacked Pinnick, the president of the Nigerian Football Federation, at a hastily-assembled meeting of the CAF executive committee.
"I've changed my cabinet," Ahmad told a news conference.
Pinnick released a statement saying his term was up and he agreed with the CAF president not to renew it.
But senior CAF sources told Reuters: “Pinnick was standing up to Ahmad and taking him on in many issues and Ahmad felt it right to get rid of him."
Ahmad appointed Constant Omari of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Pinnick's place as first vice president, which means that if Ahmad is removed as CAF president once FIFA has completed its probe, one of his supporters will step up to replace him at the helm of African football.
Morocco’s Fouzi Lekjaa will be the second vice president and Danny Jordaan of South Africa the third vice president.
The appointment of the vice presidents is the prerogative of the CAF president. They are not elected posts.
Ahmad has in the space of three months fired his general secretary, who reported him to FIFA, his finance director and now senior deputy.
FIFA will next month take over the running of CAF in what is seen as a compromise agreement with Gianni Infantino, the president of world soccer's ruling body, for Ahmad to stay in power.
Ahmad was detained by French police in June and questioned over a sportswear deal between CAF and a French company in which the African body is said to have paid exorbitant prices for equipment it could have got much cheaper directly from the manufacturers.
FIFA is sending its Senegalese secretary general Fatma Samoura on a nine-month secondment from August to overhaul CAF in accordance with an 11-point plan that includes possible changes to the format of competitions, a review of refereeing and a task force to improve stadium security.
He will also oversee a review of CAF’s judicial bodies, full transparency of money flows and implementation of good governance principles.
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