Oh dear Fifa, you’d better fix this messy African problem
The past four years have seen football engulfed in lewd scandals, the latest being CAF corruption allegations
Allegations of corruption made to Fifa against Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Ahmad Ahmad by his general secretary present a stark examination of Fifa’s will to clean up the game.
The past four years have seen football engulfed in lewd scandals. The extent of the brazen theft by administrators of the game’s assets runs into millions of dollars.
A dramatic morning in May 2015 in Zurich, when police raided a hotel full of Fifa executives, was the start of a zealous prosecution by the US attorney general of administrators who had been stealing. The Americans were able to prosecute them because they had transferred funds through the US banking system, opening them up to justice in that country.
In the CAF case, we have a rare whistle-blower from within, appalled by the actions of an allegedly corrupt boss and prepared to risk his job to expose the perceived wrong doing. Amr Fahmy, the general secretary, was fired last week after reporting Ahmad and his inner circle to Fifa’s ethics investigatory chamber. It is supposed to investigate violations of the Fifa code of ethics and open preliminary proceedings, although the process is then taken up by Fifa.
Recently the chamber has been hard at work catching up on a backlog of cases, several dating back to the corruption of referees who handled friendlies played by Bafana Bafana before the 2010 World Cup.Ultimately it will come down to the political will of Fifa president Gianni Infantino to see through any probe into Ahmad’s activities. It presents him with a dilemma.Fifa is trying to bounce back after years of scandal but is unable to shake off the stench of corrupt miscreants who fill its structures. To fire a Fifa vice president, which is what Ahmad is as boss of African football, will engender poor publicity and further tarnish Fifa’s image (if it can possibly sink any lower).But to not deal with Ahmad is to send a signal that those with alleged corrupt intentions are free to attempt again to fill their pockets.
Infantino will surely wait until after the Fifa congress in Paris in June. There he will be reelected, unopposed, and have a clear four-year mandate in which to start imposing his stamp on the game. If that includes a thorough clear-out of the rabble, then Ahmad’s days must surely be numbered.