Sports

African football body Caf in disarray, audit reveals

Football’s governing body in Africa has been shown to be in a state of disarray, an audit has revealed.

The investigation into the Confederation of African Football (Caf) questioned the body’s accounting, its governance, and its payments.

Amongst other details, the audit, carried out by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), found that:

  • Caf’s accounting was “unreliable and not trustworthy”
  • Some 35 of 40 large payments, totalling $8.3m, were “unusual”
  • Caf is “understaffed” with an “overworked” and “demotivated” workforce
  • Caf’s presidental office was “directly involved” in the controversial decision to employ Tactical Steel, a little-known gym equipment manufacturer, to become a key supplier of sportswear

The audit highlighted transactions totalling more than $20m (£15.4m) which either have “little or no supporting documentation” or were considered “higher risk”.

One area the PwC audit suggested further investigating was “the role played” by Caf President Ahmad and his attaché, Loic Gerand, among others, in the deal with French company Tactical Steel. The company’s financial dealings with Caf were described as “highly suspicious”.

Mr Ahmad has already strenuously denied any wrongdoing with regard to this case.

The forensic audit – which was complicated by Caf’s tendency to make most of its payments in cash – also suggested considerable reforms were needed throughout Caf.

The organisation’s structure was described as being over-reliant on decisions made by the executive committee (ExCo), despite the latter meeting “once a quarter, resulting in delays in key decision-making and preventing managers of Caf departments from making timely business-critical decisions”.

In addition, a lack of clarity in Caf’s organisational structure has left departments “understaffed” and existing staff both “overworked” and “generally demotivated”.

The confidential audit, a copy of which has been seen by the BBC, was carried out as part of the unprecedented decision to send the Secretary General of football’s world governing body, Fifa, to improve the way that Caf was run.

Concluding her six-month role in early February, Fatma Samoura presented her findings to leading figures in the Caf administration, who have said they will address the recommendations laid out by a joint Fifa/Caf taskforce.

These include, among others, a major restructuring of Caf’s organisational hierarchy, introducing a term limit for both the president and ExCo members and the introduction of an ethics code.

Whether ExCo members are prepared to approve fundamental changes when they meet on Friday is another matter. But a statement this week made the right noises.

“More than 30 years of an outdated and patriarchal management at Caf have resulted in important shortcomings at all levels of operations,” Caf said.

“Caf will persevere… to ensure that we achieve the highest international standards.”

The damning audit highlights a raft of financial deals which require further investigation, with Caf President Ahmad, a 60-year-old from Madagascar, one of those under scrutiny.

PwC recommended an investigation into Ahmad’s role in the controversial decision to employ Tactical Steel, a little-known gym equipment manufacturer, to become a key supplier of sportswear to Caf.

Mr Ahmad has previously told the BBC – in response to being asked if he had cancelled a deal with sportswear company Puma, worth $250,000, to take up a larger order with Tactical Steel, worth $1m, in December 2017 – that the accusations were “false, malicious, defamatory (and) part of a vendetta”.

The Caf president blamed his general secretary, Amr Fahmy, who had formally complained to Fifa, for spreading the story. Caf’s finance director at the time, Mohamed El Sherei, also took the case to Fifa.

Both men have since been dismissed.

“From the communications reviewed, it appears that Caf’s president office was directly involved in agreeing to the initial offer of Tactical Steel and then the additional handling and logistics costs without involving relevant departments in Caf such as Procurement, Marketing and Finance,” the PwC audit said.

Tactical Steel is run by Romauld Seillier, a long-standing friend – and former army colleague – of Loic Gerand, Mr Ahmad’s attaché.

BBC

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