CAF officially terminates exclusive marketing contract with France's Lagardère

Ahram Online , Friday 8 Nov 2019

In 2015, CAF and Lagardère announced a 12-year extension of a previous deal that was set to run from 2009 to 2016

Confederation of African Football (CAF) logo

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has terminated its contracts with the French Lagardère Group for the marketing rights for the continent's competitions.

On Wednesday, the group, which has the exclusive marketing rights for African competitions until 2028, revealed CAF had cancelled the $1 billion deal, which was signed in 2015 and will take "all measures" to preserve their marketing rights of the continent's competitions.

In 2015, CAF and Lagardère announced a 12-year extension of a previous deal that was set to run from 2009 to 2016.

CAF secretary-general Moaz Hajji said on Thursday that will release an official statement to clear the details of the ongoing dispute with Lagardère.

"In 2017, the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) found that the agreement breached Egyptian competition rules because Lagardère was appointed as CAF's exclusive agent for the marketing and media rights for an uninterrupted 20-year period without any open tender," CAF said in a statement on Friday.

"By the same decision, ECA declared the agreement null and void and imposed a number of remedies on CAF. Those remedies included the obligation to immediately terminate the agreement and suspend its effects within the Egyptian market," the statement added.

Cairo economic courts issued two judgments in 2018 and 2019 (case number 397 of 2017 and number 434 of 2019) whereby they found the two former CAF officials who had signed the agreement, former president Issa Hayatou and former secretary-general Hicham El Amrani, guilty of anti-competitive and fraudulent conduct.

The court imposed a fine of EGP 500 million on each of them. On appeal, the fine was reduced to EGP 200 million and CAF was held to be jointly liable for the payment of the fine.

In 2017, the Competition Commission of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (CCC) assessed that the agreement had infringed the CCC’s competition regulations.

It recommended the imposition of a financial penalty on CAF and the adoption of certain remedies, including the termination of the agreement. 

CAF has repeatedly made it clear to Lagardère, including at a meeting this week, that its termination of the agreement was not an "unilateral decision" as was wrongly presented in Lagardère's recent press release, CAF said.

The termination of the agreement is the legal consequence of the decision of ECA, the judgements of Egyptian courts and the recommendations and imminent decision of the CCC.

CAF concluded the statement saying they invited Lagardère to discuss appropriate next steps and cooperation to ensure the fulfilment of the obligations toward sponsors, licensees and football fans with respect to the current competitions. 

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