African Football Confederation (CAF) President, Ahmad Ahmad (Reuters)
A corruption scandal and a decision to cede control of the body to FIFA are likely to provoke lively debate when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) holds its congress in Cairo on Thursday.
It is the first meeting of CAF’s 54-member associations since allegations of fraud and sexual harassment were levelled against CAF president Ahmad Ahmad in April.
Ahmad, a former cabinet minister in his homeland Madagascar, was reported in March to FIFA’s ethics committee by CAF general secretary Amr Fahmy, who was then fired.
Further allegations of fraud have recently been made against Ahmad, who was detained and questioned by French authorities in June as part of a corruption investigation.
Ahmad has denied wrongdoing in several media interviews but has not responded to repeated requests by Reuters for comment on the specific allegations against him.
FIFA took over the running of CAF in the wake of the corruption allegations following an unprecedented decision by the African body’s executive committee to cede control.
That decision was seen by some of Ahmad’s critics as a bid for him to try and stay in power, even if it opens him up to further scrutiny when FIFA audits CAF’s finances.
The handover of power has proven unpopular with some member associations.
They dislike the idea of African football being run by outsiders even though FIFA is sending its Senegalese secretary general Fatma Samoura on a ninth-month secondment from August to overhaul the organisation.
Traditionally CAF congresses are docile affairs where decisions sought by the president are then approved by members, but Thursday’s meeting is expected to be a break from the norm.
“This week will define African football. All this nonsense must stop,” one football association president, who did not want to be named, told Reuters.
Opposition to Ahmad remains largely tempered and from anonymous sources and there is no expectation of any challenge to his leadership.
Much attention will be on FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who is scheduled to attend.
FIFA has confirmed there is an ethics investigation into Ahmad, who is also, by virtue of his role at CAF, a FIFA vice president.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)