Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) president Ahmad Ahmad will appeal FIFA’s decision to hand him a five-year ban for financial improprieties at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), reports say.
Ahmad was banned with immediate effect from all football activities on Monday by FIFA after he was found to have violated the organisation’s code of ethics relating to duty of loyalty, offering and accepting gifts, abuse of position and misappropriation of funds between 2017 and 2019.
“The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has found Ahmad Ahmad, the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and a FIFA Vice-President, guilty of having breached art. 15 (Duty of loyalty), art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts or other benefits) and art. 25 (Abuse of position) of the 2020 edition of the FIFA Code of Ethics, as well as art. 28 (Misappropriation of funds) of the 2018 edition” a FIFA statement read.
“The investigation into Mr Ahmad’s conduct … from 2017 to 2019 concerned various CAF-related governance issues, including the organisation and financing of an Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca, his involvement in Caf’s dealing with the sports equipment company Tactical Steel and other activities.”
Ahmad has also been fined $200,000. He has previously denied any wrongdoing.
Reports say the 60-year-old Malagasy national is also facing a separate ethics investigation by football’s world governing body.
Ahmad’s ban puts in doubt his plans to run for another term as CAF president in elections next March as he would have to pass an eligibility test to resume his place on the FIFA Council.
According to Moroccan and Malagasy reports Ahmad, who announced his candidacy last month, will try and overturn the ban and he reportedly met with his lawyers on Tuesday morning in preparation for an appeal to CAS in Switzerland.
But he might face a significant challenge as he can only lodge an appeal at CAS once he has received the full grounds for the decision, a process that can take up to 60 days.
The significance of the timeframe lies in the fact his chances of re-election hinges on not only winning his appeal at CAS but also ensuring said appeal is heard early enough to allow him to be confirmed as a candidate.
Should FIFA take 60 days to issue its grounds, Ahmad would be ineligible to stand for re-election since he would need to be cleared of any wrongdoing by 11 January, the date CAF is scheduled to formally announce the presidential candidates to its members.
Ahmad recently stepped back from his duties at CAF for ‘medical reasons’ as he continues to recover from coronavirus, so leaving CAF’s first vice-president Constant Omari in charge.
Following his ban, CAF announced on Tuesday that Omari will continue to lead the organisation for the time being.
“In accordance with its statutes, CAF announces that the current interim of Mr Constant Omari as President of Caf is extended,” African football’s ruling body said in a statement.
“CAF, which is concerned about the reputational consequences of this long procedure, maintains the schedule of all its activities and programs.”