The President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Ahmad Ahmad, was released without charge following his arrest on Thursday in Paris.
Ahmad was arrested as part of investigations by French authorities into a probe about corruption, breach of trust and forgery.
CAF is said to have breached a 2017 contract with sportswear manufacturer, Puma, to supply equipment and clothes to 580 volunteers at the 2018 African Nations Championships, a tournament for national teams of African players who ply their trade on the continent.
According to French news agency AFP, CAF tore up the contract with Puma in favor of a better offer from a small company based in La Seyne-Sur-Mer, east of Marseille. The French company supplies Adidas gear.
Ahmad’s arrest on June 6th comes a year after Ghanaian investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, released a documentary exposing corruption in soccer administration in Africa.
The exposé led to the resignation of the President of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Kwesi Nyantakyi, who at the time doubled as a member of the FIFA Council and first Vice President of CAF.
Talk about corruption in soccer in Africa has been rife for many years with many blaming former CAF President Issa Hayatou, who led the continental soccer body for 29 years, for encouraging the practice.
Ahmad’s promise to reform soccer in Africa a fluke?
When Ahmad, then a CAF Executive Committee Member and president of the Madagascar Football Federation, was seeking to unseat Hayatou in 2017, he promised to bring ‘meaningful change’ to soccer on the African continent.
But Osasu Obayiuwana, a journalist who has followed the game of soccer in Africa for more than two decades, says there has not been any meaningful change since in soccer administration since Ahmad took over as CAF President.
Osasu described Ahmad’s arrest as unfortunate and “highly damaging for the image of Mr. Ahmad and damaging for CAF.”
“To be honest, I don’t know when things are going to end because there are still other problems” he noted with the administration of soccer under Ahmad.
“As we know, FIFA have made it clear that he’s under ethics investigation and he’s not the only one who is under ethics investigation. We’re aware that the President of the Egyptian Football Association, Hany Abo Rida, has been under investigation for some months now. Although his acquaintances say he has been cleared, he has not produced any evidence to that effect, and he has not spoken about the investigation himself.”
Citing other instances of assault of referees and rude behavior by some club executives, Obayiuwana says African soccer is currently “a mess” pointing out that “if governance is to function, it is imperative that those who are custodians of African football respect the constitution of CAF, implement its rules unfailingly, and obey the rules of the game.”
World soccer governing body, FIFA, in a statement issued following Mr. Ahmad’s arrest said it is “fully committed to eradicating all forms of wrongdoing at any level in football. Anyone found to have committed illicit or illegal acts has no place in football.”
The statement concluded that FIFA, which was rocked by its own corruption scandal in 2015, leading to the resignation of its longtime president Sepp Blatter “is now clean from the scandals that tarnished its reputation and this same determination should prevail in governing bodies such as confederations. FIFA will be at the forefront of ensuring that this is enforced by everyone involved in football.”