The Confederation of African Football (CAF) was plunged into further crisis on Monday after general secretary Mouad Hajji resigned from his post.
Hajji had been in power for less than a year, having taken charge in April 2019 with CAF saying he was quitting for personal reasons.
“I would like to warmly thank President Ahmad Ahmad for giving me the opportunity to serve the football of our continent at such a level of responsibility,” Hajji said in a statement.
His resignation was accepted by CAF President Ahmad, who will now convene an emergency committee meeting in order to appoint an Acting Secretary-General.
Hajji departs amid much turbulence in the African football governing body.
A former Moroccan government official and a trained dentist, Hajji took over last April from Amr Fahmy who died after a two-year battle with cancer last month.
Fahmy was in position for eleven months but was dismissed after submitting evidence to FIFA’s ethics committee of alleged misappropriation of funds by CAF president Ahmad Ahmad.
The ethics committee of football’s world governing body confirmed investigating the allegation but more than a year later no action has been taken against Ahmad, who was also questioned by French police last June.
Ahmad has denied any wrongdoing.
Ahmad, days after being taken in for questioning in Paris about an equipment supplier deal involving a close associate and CAF, agreed to allow FIFA to send its general secretary Fatma Samoura to Cairo for six months to help restructure the organisation and sort out its finances.
An independent review of the running of CAF by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC), seen by Reuters last month, found “potential elements of mismanagement” and “possible abuse of power” amidst concern about widespread use of cash payments.
The audit also found that CAF’s accounting was “unreliable and not trustworthy” while its workforce was “understaffed”, “overworked” and “demotivated”.
FIFA’s Samoura restructured much of CAF, including controversially exiting a lucrative television deal which has meant that none of African football’s major matches over the last month have been shown by major broadcasters.
However, CAF did not agree to Samoura staying on when its executive committee met in Morocco last month, which angered FIFA president Gianni Infantino according to sources close to the African football body.
The decision not to allow Samoura to continue came after Infantino had suggested more sweeping reforms for the African game, including a super league for Africa’s top clubs in what could be a test case for the future of other continents.
CAF has not yet approved any of Infantino’s plan and the sources close to the African organisation say Ahmad, who is also a FIFA vice president, is on a collision course with Infantino.
Ahmad said Hajji’s work had been invaluable in driving the CAF reforms.
“I would like to salute a committed, loyal and above all passionate football player, and wish him all the success he deserves in the rest of his career,” the CAF statement quoted Ahmad as saying.
CAF must now look for its third Secretary General in the space of a year, after Hajji replaced Amr Fahmy eleven months ago.