CAF not moved

2014-06-08 15:00

The damning allegations against top Confederation of African Football (CAF) officials published by a UK newspaper will not be discussed at a CAF congress in Brazil tomorrow.

A report in the UK’s The Sunday Times has revealed African soccer officials – including CAF president Issa Hayatou – were pampered and showered with expensive gifts by disgraced former Fifa vice-president Mohamed bin Hammam.

Bin Hammam was banned for life after being found guilty of bribery in his campaign to unseat Sepp Blatter as the president of Fifa, the world football governing body. Before that, he had served as president of the Asian Football Confederation and was accused of helping Qatar win the bid to host the 2022 event.

There were further startling revelations based on emails that were leaked to the newspaper that several officials from Africa had received more than $370?000 (R3.9?million) in cash deposited into their accounts ahead of the voting for the 2022 World Cup that was awarded to Qatar, which ended up receiving 14 of the 24 Fifa executives’ votes.

The report alleged that the Ivory Coast Football Federation had received payments of $400?000 for two years in succession from the Fifa Goal Project plus $22?000 from Bin Hammam, who was the chairman of the project at the time.

Jacques Anouma, who heads the Ivory Coast federation, sits in the Fifa executive.

Responding to questions, his spokesperson said there was nothing wrong with their federation receiving two successive payments for Goal Projects in two years.

He said the $22?000 payment from Bin Hammam in 2009 was “a charitable contribution” for victims of a stadium collapse during an international match.

The newspaper published copies of emails that show how former world footballer of the year, Liberia’s George Weah, and seven other African soccer officials, Kalusha Bwalya (Zambia), Adam “Bomber” Mthethwa (Swaziland), John Muinjo (Namibia), Seedy Kinteh (Gambia), Manuel Dende (Sao Tome), Izetta Wesley (Liberia) and Fadoul Houssein (Djibouti) had asked for and received money from Bin Hammam (see graphic).

According to the emails, Weah’s $50?000 was for “school fees” while an extract from Mthethwa’s email states: “I am in dire need of finance in the region of $30?000. This arises from the fact that I’ve just retired from politics.”

CAF spokesperson Junior Binyam told City Press from Brazil on Friday that this issue was “not part of the agenda at the congress”.

In a statement posted on CAF’s website, the confederation dismissed the reports as “ridiculous”, “a lie meant to manipulate public opinion” and as allegations that “are meant to discredit not only [Hayatou] as a person but the whole continent”.

It further said that, just as in 2011 when such allegations first surfaced, Hayatou was “waiting for the famous evidence from The Sunday Times” and added that their president reserved “the right to take legal action against any of those responsible for the smear campaign against him”.

CAF also posted all the questions from The Sunday Times with Hayatou’s answers.

But Binyam said Hayatou had not as yet made the decision to sue.

Bwalya told City Press from the US on Friday that “these people got the wrong information but I don’t want to comment”.

Muinjo yesterday admitted he did ask for $50?000 on behalf of the Namibian Football Federation but said he did not receive it. “I requested the money to help sustain our second division for the 2010 and 2011 season, and also requested for a stadium to be built with artificial turf as his legacy. “But my conscience is clear that I did nothing wrong as I was acting on behalf of my association and my executive endorsed it,” said Muinjo, who was on his way to Brazil yesterday.

Talk coming out of Brazil where CAF was preparing for their congress was that members were questioning why African officials were being “targeted” by the report when Qatar received 14 votes.

“Africa only has four votes,” said a member who did not want to be named. “You cannot win the bid on four votes. The only people mentioned in that report who voted are Issa and Jacques. All the others don’t have a vote, so how could they influence the outcome?”

In October 2010, the Fifa ethics committee banned six soccer officials – Reynald Temarii (Tahiti), Ahongalu Fusimalohi (Tonga), Ismail Bhamjee (Botswana), Amos Adamu (Nigeria), Slim Aloulou (Tunisia) and Amadou Diakite (Mali) – following allegations of bribery surrounding votes for the 2018 and 2022 Fifa World Cups.

This week, the investigatory chamber of the Fifa ethics committee led by US lawyer Michael J Garcia said in a statement: “After months of interviewing witnesses and gathering materials, we intend to complete that phase of our investigation by June 9 2014, and to submit a report to the adjudicatory chamber approximately six weeks thereafter. The report will consider all evidence potentially related to the bidding process, including evidence collected from prior investigations.”

Garcia was to interview members of Qatar’s bid committee this week. City Press did not get a response from his New York office on whether the interviews took place.

Fifa bribery scandal

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