FIFA’s ethics committee lacks independence and the game’s governing body is controlling Africa for strategic reasons, claims former Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Ahmad following the end of his two-year ban from football.
The 63-year-old, who took charge of CAF in 2017, prior to his 2020 suspension for breaching various Fifa ethics codes, says he wants to help local football in his homeland Madagascar after returning to the sport in December.
Meanwhile, his former ally Gianni Infantino will be handed another four-year term since the FIFA president’s control of world football is such that no rival candidate was prepared to contest Thursday’s elections, the first on African soil, in Rwanda.
Ahmad believes his ban came after refusing to follow Infantino’s desired aims, chief among them the February 2020 decision to cancel the assistance FIFA was then giving CAF at its headquarters in Egypt.
“My suspension was political,” Ahmad told BBC Sport Africa, while recalling a heated meeting between CAF and FIFA in Morocco.
After African football’s ruling body chose not to extend its unprecedented deal with FIFA – with secretary general Fatma Samoura having served six months as the ‘general delegate for Africa’ in Cairo in a bid to improve governance – Infantino stormed out and headed straight to the airport.
“Fatma really helped but in six months we had what we wanted so did not extend the mission, but it angered the people of FIFA – Gianni was angry,” said Ahmad.
“Upon leaving the meeting, some FIFA people were telling my colleagues that I had signed my death warrant. What is a death warrant in football? It is surely to use the ethics committee, the lethal weapon they were using at the time.”
A month after Africa rejected FIFA’s offer, Ahmad was told an ethics investigation had been opened against him, as the Zurich body finally acted on information received from a whistle-blower (then CAF secretary general Amr Fahmy) one year earlier.
In November 2020, the ethics committee then served Ahmad with a five-year ban (and $200,000 fine) after ruling he had breached codes relating to duty of loyalty, offering and accepting gifts, abuse of position and misappropriation of funds.
Now far removed from football administration, Ahmad claims evidence of the political nature of his ban came when sport’s highest legal body, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), reduced his sanction by over half in 2021.
“It proves that the errors I am accused of were subject to interpretation,” he claimed.
In response, FIFA referred to the fact that Ahmad was found guilty by both its ethics committee and Cas, and provided the following statement in response to claims that Infantino had personally orchestrated any reference regarding Ahmad to the ethics committee.
“As per the FIFA code of ethics, the members of the ethics committee shall manage their investigations and proceedings and render their decisions entirely independently and impartially and shall avoid any third-party influence,” a FIFA statement said.
“Gianni Infantino has presided over an organisation that, in seven years, has delivered a seven-fold increase in investment to every association in world football – that’s not spin, but facts,” added FIFA spokesperson Bryan Swanson.
“Generally-speaking, attempts to discredit him are tiresome and fuelled by those that cannot accept Fifa is now efficient, well-governed and fit for purpose under his leadership.”