Gaborone - The five-year suspension of Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Ahmad Ahmad this week could trigger a wave of investigations into how soccer is being managed at both continental and regional levels.
World soccer governing body FIFA banned Ahmad, a former Fisheries Minister from Madagascar, for financial misconduct.
FIFA’s ethics committee found that “Ahmad had breached his duty of loyalty, offered gifts and other benefits, mismanaged funds and abused his position as the CAF President”. Ahmad was also fined 200,000 Swiss francs (US$220,000) for the misconduct related to “the organisation and financing of an Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca” and an irregular deal with a sports equipment company.
Ahmad denied the allegations.
Observers say FIFA could soon launch full-scale investigations to establish who else benefited from the financial misconduct.
Football analyst Mqondisi Dube from Botswana described it as a “drawback particularly looking at the fact that not too long ago, football was dogged by a massive scandal that saw the fall of (FIFA president) Sepp Blatter”.
“It's yet another sad chapter when football was looking to bury the black immediate past. But on the positive, there is a clear message that transgressions of whatever nature cannot be tolerated, that's the silver lining in an otherwise dark cloud,” said Dube.
Another sports analyst from Botswana, Duncan Kgangkenna, added: “The suspension of the CAF president is a set back as far as the development of football in Africa is concerned. It is likely to have negative impact on the way potential business partners, sponsors and stakeholders view football leaders.”
According to Kgangkenna, African football is not growing because of poor leadership, which is often accused of corruption and ineptitude.
“If what Ahmad is accused of is anything to go by then African football is in trouble. Some of our leaders are in positions to enrich themselves and steal at the expense of football,” said Kgangkenna.
He added that FIFA programmes to develop football were not progressing as they should because of mismanagement of funds.
“The mafia style of leadership in football must be must be nipped in the bud so that it becomes a lesson to future leaders,” said Kgangkenna.
He observed that CAF has been riddled with maladministration “for quite some time to the extent that FIFA took a decision to deploy its secretary-general for six months to run the office and clean up corruption related activities that were there... we are not shocked but embarrassed”.