Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Ahmad Ahmad has declared he will run for reelection when elections take place next March.
The 60-year-old Malagasy national who took charge in 2017, has been formally entered into the race by Madagascar’s federation, as per CAF rules which require any candidate to be nominated by his own association.
“I accepted to be a candidate while listening to the presidents of the federation, around 46 of whom asked me after receiving my assessment of my initial mandate,” Ahmad told the BBC.
Ahmad decision to run for reelection comes even as he is currently the subject of a FIFA ethics enquiry, which has the potential to derail his bid and throw March’s elections wide open.
“As I have previously announced, I said I would pursue a second mandate if the need was there,” he explained.
Ahmad’s stab at another term in office appears to enjoy massive support after all but eight federations on the continent gave their backing to the Malagasy last week.
“This is an outcome of working together, of management which involves everybody, which has been happening since 2017,” he said.
Ahmad is presently the sole candidate to have submitted a candidacy during the registration period, which ends on 12 November, since FIFA Council member Tarek Bouchamoui, who had wanted to run, has effectively been blocked from running by the Tunisian FA.
There is speculation bid that Nigeria FA boss and former Ahmad ally Amaju Pinnick could also throw his hat in the ring.
Pinnick has consistently refused to rule himself out of the race.
“It’s always good during an election to have a rival candidate, but we wait,” said Ahmad.
“I know that some people are awaiting other things unrelated to the elections – but as for the elections themselves, they all know they cannot beat me given I represent a group of people who want to go forward together.”
Ahmad was seemingly referring to the looming FIFA Ethics case against him, which was opened last year after former Secretary General Amr Fahmy made various allegations to football’s world governing body against the Malagasy – all of which Ahmad denies.
French anti-corruption authorities arrested Ahmad just before the 2019 AFCON over a controversial deal with Tactical Steel, a little-known French gym manufacturer run by an old friend of Ahmad’s then attaché, which provided sportswear equipment to CAF in 2017 after an original deal with Puma – slightly smaller, but costing four times less – was cancelled.
FIFA has yet to release information about the investigation but has twice sent auditors to CAF, with Pricewaterhouse Coopers – in a damning initial report that leaked in February – questioning missing funds amounting to over $20m while also calling for further investigation into Ahmad’s role in the Tactical Steel affair.
“I challenge today for anyone to see me to find out what has become of the $24m they said we have stolen from Fifa,” he said.
“I do not understand why it is taking so long. But I don’t want to comment on that, especially as the investigation is ongoing and so confidentiality must surround the process. Time will tell.”
Should he be able to both run and secure a second term in office, Ahmad says he wants to introduce further change.
“My priority would be to continue reform on the administrative side, and restructure our competitions – improving our Champions League, strengthening our youth competitions and putting in place for the first time our Women’s Champions League,” he said.
Earlier this year, after an unprecedented period in football history when FIFA sent its own General Secretary Fatma Samoura to CAF in a bid to improve governance, Fifa president Gianni Infantino announced a billion-dollar plan to create an African Super League.
“We need Mr Infantino for that and all those who can give us help on that are welcome,” said Ahmad about a plan of which little has been heard since.
He also says he wants to help strengthen Africa’s six regional zones and help individual associations undertake reform.