FIFA is taking over African soccer amid corruption charges at CAF

Not in charge now.
Not in charge now.
Image: Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon/File Photo
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If desperate times call for desperate measures, the Confederation of African Football (CAF)—the continent’s top soccer body—is pushing the envelope.

In an unprecedented move, CAF has effectively handed over control to FIFA, the global soccer governing body, in what’s viewed as a stark admission of its incompetence.

FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura of Senegal, a former UN official, will run CAF as “FIFA general delegate for Africa” for an initial six-month period. A six-month extension will require the bodies’ joint approval.

The decision comes amid a corruption controversy in which CAF president Ahmad Ahmad was arrested in Paris on charges of financial impropriety. The arrest of Ahmad, a prominent member of FIFA’s executive committee, represents as a major setback to the global body’s claims of eschewing corruption after the ouster of longtime president Sepp Blatter. Ahmad rose to power as CAFs chief two years ago by promising reforms, increased transparency and a new code of ethics as he unseated Issa Hayatou, who led the confederation for 29 years.

Samoura will lead a “forensic audit” of CAF finances and “a root-and-branch review” of governance, officials said. She will also oversee management of the organization and recommend reforms. FIFA say the move will put CAF on “a modern and sound footing, improve its image and reputation.” Under the new set-up, Ahmad is unlikely to wield much power, if any.

Fatma Samoura, the new boss.
Fatma Samoura, the new boss.
Image: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

CAF has been welcoming of the new arrangement, which has faced high-level opposition elsewhere. Aleksander Čeferin, president of UEFA, Europe’s soccer governing body, has questioned the legality of the move.

Yet, there will be very little time for Samoura to settle into the new role—the African Cup of Nations, Africa’s most prestigious soccer competition, kicks off this weekend in Egypt.

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