CAF president Ahmad arrested in Paris in corruption probe
By Jonathan Rest
Ahmad Ahmad, the president of the Confederation of African Football, soccer's continental governing body, was arrested in Paris today over allegations of corruption.
Ahmad, who is also a vice-president of Fifa, is in the French capital ahead of the Women's World Cup, which starts tomorrow, and was detained at around 8.30am (CET) this morning at the Berri Hotel, according to multiple media reports.
The Madagascan official is being questioned by France's Central Office for the Fight against Corruption and Financial and Fiscal Crimes.
It is understood the arrest is related to CAF breaking the terms of a contract with Puma, the German sportswear firm, by ordering a equipment via a French intermediary Tactical Steel.
That company was cited in a 31 March letter by former CAF general secretary Amr Fahmy to a Fifa body that investigates alleged ethics breaches.
The whistleblower document, seen by Reuters, accused Ahmad of ordering bribes of $20,000 to be paid into the accounts of presidents of national associations in Africa.
It also accused him of: costing CAF an extra $830,000 by ordering equipment via Tactical Steel; harassing four unnamed female CAF staff; violating statutes to increase Moroccan representation at the confederation; and overspending more than $400,000 of CAF money on cars in Egypt, where the body is based, and Madagascar, where a satellite office has been established for him.
Fahmy was subsequently sacked, with Ahmad having claimed in a CAF meeting in mid-April that all decisions were made "collegially" and were "transparent."
Ahmad's arrest came less than 24 hours after Gianni Infantino, soon after his re-election as Fifa president to 2023, hailed “a new Fifa” that had emerged since the federation's nadir of 2015, when, ironically, it was malpractice within the regional confederations, in that case the Americas, which hurt the global governing body.
Infantino had told Fifa members yesterday in Paris: "Remember the state of Fifa at that congress [February 2016, when he was elected president]. The last three years and four months have not been perfect. I have made mistakes, certainly, and I will try to improve and do better but today nobody talks about crisis, nobody talks about rebuilding Fifa from scratch, nobody talks about scandals, nobody talks about corruption.
"We can say that we turned the situation around. This organisation went from being toxic, almost criminal, to being what it should be, an organisation that develops football and is now synonymous with transparency and integrity."
Responding to news of Ahmad's arrest, Fifa said in a statement today: "Fifa is unaware of the details surrounding this investigation and is therefore not in a position to make any comment on it specifically. Fifa is asking the French authorities for any information that might be relevant to investigations taking place within its ethics committee.
"As a matter of due process, everyone has the right to the presumption of innocence, but as the Fifa president reiterated yesterday, Fifa is fully committed to eradicating all forms of wrongdoing at any level in football. Anyone found to have committed illicit or illegal acts has no place in football.
"Fifa is now clean from the scandals that tarnished its reputation and this same determination should prevail in governing bodies such a confederations. Fifa will be at the forefront of ensuring that this is enforced by everyone involved in football."
Ahmad was installed as CAF president in March 2017 after defeating Issa Hayatou, in the process ending the Cameroonian official’s 29-year reign at the helm of African soccer. His present term is due to run until 2021.