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:
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 investigation was “the role played” by CAF President AhmadAhmad 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 ask force.
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“More than 30 years of an outdated and patriarchal management at CAFhave resulted in important shortcomings at all levels of operations,” CAFaid.
“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 CAFpresident 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.
During the course of this deal, several payments made by CAF to Tactical Steel and the latter’s affiliate, ES Pro Consulting Ltd, based in the United Arab Emirates, were returned to CAF for reasons that are unclear.
“The refunds from Tactical Steel and ES Pro Consulting… are highly suspicious which could potentially indicate a kick-back arrangement between parties involved or a case of tax evasion through off-shore payments,” the audit said.
In June 2019, Mr Ahmad, who took charge of CAF in March 2017, was questioned in the French capital, Paris, by anti-corruption authorities before being released without charge.
PwC’s audit has also suggested closing down CAF’s Emergency Committee, a group involving the Caf President and any three ExCo members, which can bypass ExCo and fast track decision making.
“Based on the documentation at hand, it appears that the decisions of the Emergency Committee has (sic) been taken in a less than transparent matter,” the report stated.
The auditors observed “multiple payments for the same period/dates” when it came to claiming travel expenses. Although the report failed to mention Mr Ahmad by name in relation to expenses, the BBC revealed last year how the CAF president received two different sets of expenses when for being in two different countries at the same time.
Given that the audit was conducted “in relation to FIFA Ethics guidance”, it remains to be seen what action, if any, will be taken against the Malagasy.
As part of its audit, PwC reviewed just under $10m of payments made with money that FIFAgave to CAF to distribute as part of its FIFA Forward programme, which aims to enhance football development in countries across the world.
However, only five of the 40 payments “appeared to be aligned to purpose”, said the report.
The rest – totalling some $8.3m – either had “little or no supporting documentation” or were considered “unusual/higher risk” with no patterns “identified in terms of the nature or the value of the payments”.
Details were thin on the ground in some cases – with the governing body of the central and east African region, Cecafa, receiving a payment of $0.5m when the only information given was that this was to organise an Under-17 match in Burundi.
Meanwhile, the governing body of the southern African region, Cosafa, was allocated $400,000 to stage an Under-20 game.
The story was largely the same for the annual subvention funds that CAFpays to its 54 member associations, which is currently $200,000 per year – having risen from $50,000 and then $100,000 per year under Mr Ahmad.
Of the 66 high-risk payments reviewed, 48 – worth some $11m – had insufficient documentation.
Particularly troubling were three payments of $100,125 each supposedly made for the benefit of the Liberian FA – one of which ended up in Estonia, two of which were sent to a mystery company in Poland.
This was called Rosenbaum Contemporary and when its website was operating – prior to disappearing in 2019 – it identified itself as an industrial company.
Why the money went there is unclear, with PwC recommending legal action to recover the funds as well as a desire to “rule out ‘insider’ involvement’ within CAF
Complicating matters for those trying to understand the true nature of CAF’s finances is the fact that many of the organisation’s payments are made in cash, particularly to staff.
It cites a withdrawal of $350,000 in cash in December 2017, which was simply marked as “payroll expenses”, by way of example.
Of the 25 information requests that PwC made to Caf, all were granted save for three – with both “bonuses” and “travel expenses” among the latter.
·“During the review, it was observed that payments and reimbursements to ExCo members majorly contribute to CAF’s administrative expenses”
CAF’s ExCo – which is effectively the organisation’s board – also has issues to address in light of the audit, which questions the manner in which they are compensated.
“Exco members – jointly or through a committee comprising a part of the Exco members (e.g. compensation committee) – propose and approve salaries, bonuses, end of term benefits, indemnities and allowances for the members of the ExCo, leading to a self-approval situation.”
Thirty-five payments made to the ExCo were reviewed yet not one had all the “required documentation to clearly establish the legitimacy of the payments”.
In 2016, a period when Mr Ahmad’s predecessor Issa Hayatou was in charge, $36,150 was paid to wives of ExCo members yet the latter could not provide documents regarding the “eligibility of spouses of ExCo members for such payments”.
“CAFas also booked several ad-hoc payments to ExCo members – e.g. buying gifts, offering donations, organising funeral etc. – for which no documents were provided for review,” the audit added.
Despite receiving indemnities of $450 per day when on duty and an annual bonus of at least $60,000, ExCo members are considered by the audit to hinder CAF’s daily working activities.
“The ExCo, which is held responsible to take all executive decisions, meets once a quarter, resulting in delays in key decision making and preventing managers of CAF departments from making timely business-critical decisions.”
·“Caf being a football governing body to promote and develop the game in Africa, it is important that CAF effectively manages its stakeholders – external and internal – effectively. Currently, there is little or no understanding about who the stakeholders are for the individual department.”
With an unclear hierarchy and delays in decisions, Caf’s working environment appears far from perfect – with the result that staff are said to be “demotivated”.
“Staff expressed a lack of systematic communication, concerning key decisions, resulting in great amount of unclarity… and feeling of exclusion,” said the audit.
“Staff are unaware of the existing organisation structure… Job roles and responsibilities assigned to individual staff members are not properly defined and known.”
The list goes on – from a lack of leadership, committees meeting on an “ad-hoc basis without systematic planning” through to the lack of a dedicated IT department.
In addition, staff attendance, overtime, vacations and medical absences are said to be neither monitored nor captured.
Meanwhile, large swathes of financial records are simply missing – with PwC estimating that it was unable to access around 20% of the data required for the period in review, which covered 2014-2019.
“Several sweeping governance and operational measures have already been implemented before and during the six-month partnership with Fifa,” Caf’s statement said.
“The ExCo has scheduled a meeting for 14 February to validate the 2020-21 Caf roadmap which will take into accounts (sic) all the recommendations.”
Given the roadmap suggests relieving the ExCo of management and administrative responsibilities, it promises to be quite some journey.
Organisers Explain 2021 NSF Postponement
The 21st edition of National Sports Festival earlier scheduled for November 2 to 15, 2022, in Asaba, Delta State, will now hold from November 28 to December 10, 2022.
According to a statement by the Festival Secretary, Peter Nelson, and addressed to all Commissioners of Sports and Directors of Sports, the postponement was at the request of the host, Delta State.
“I wish to convey the request of Delta State Government to shift the date of the 21st National Sports Festival earlier scheduled to hold from November 2 to 15, 2022.
“It is now shifted to start on November 28 to December 10, 2022.
“The reason for the postponement is to give Delta State more time to complete some of the facilities needed for the festival,” the statement reads.
It will be recalled that the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival held in Benin City, Edo State, which was tagged: “Edo 2020,” also suffered several postponements until it finally held from April 2 to 14.
Nigeria Must Embrace Grassroots Sports Dev – Amusan
Women’S 100 metres hurdles world record holder, Tobi Amusan, believes that grassroots development programmes and top-notch training will help the country discover more athletics world champions.
Speaking in Lagos at a dinner organised in her honour by The Plug, an entertainment firm, tagged ‘Tobi Amusan’s Homecoming,’ she blamed the exodus of the Nigeria’s top athletes to other countries to what such nations offer the athletes.
“Grassroots sports development is something we lack here and the reason we often lose our top athletes to other countries of the world.
“From my experience training in the United States, if we can have such development here, we can groom young talents and unearth more Tobi Amusans,” she said.
On the recent ratification of her record by World Athletics, Amusan said: “That my world record was ratified by the world body means that I am drug free and that I am clean. I feel great about it. Every time I am on the track, my eyes are always set on how to win and I execute it by winning.”
She also spoke on the recent reception by the Federal Government, saying, “It is great feeling that we were recognised by the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In as much as we did the work, it was an honour that they took into account and they recognised the fact that we did the nation proud. It is such a great feeling getting the national honour.”
She acknowledged the support she got after her world record feat, with her followers on Twitter rising from 3000 to 150,000 under 24 hours, saying it showed that people appreciate what she is doing.
On the criticism by men’s 400 metres world record holder, Michael Johnson, after her record breaking race in Oregon, U.S, Amusan said she was not bothered. “Honestly, I kept doing my thing because after the World Championships, I had other competitions to attend. I don’t dwell on negativity… I look on the bright side of the sport.”
At the event, Flutterwave, which used the occasion to declare it has signed a multi-year partnership deal with Amusan, said: “It is very difficult to find athletes who embody our core values the way Tobi does.”
YSFON : Academy Coach Begs For Assistance
The Head coach of the De Kings International Football Academy (DKIFA) of Port Harcourt Okpaleke Chika King is begging the Rivers State ministry of Sports, private and corporate individuals and all lovers of football for financial support to assist his team represent the state in Youth Sports Federation Of Nigeria (YSFON) competition.
He said that his team was representing Rivers state at the ongoing Chief of Naval Staff National (YSFON) Competition in Ilorin, Kwara State. He said he had written a letter to the Ministry of Sports and also to some private individuals for assistance.
King made the assertion on Saturday in an exclusive interview with Tidesports in Port Harcourt before leaving for Kwara state.
According to him he had nothing to do than to borrow money for the journey believing that when the State’s Commissioner for Sports sees the letter he would not fail to respond to it.
“ As you can see, my boys are ready for the competition but we lack support.
“ I have written to the Ministry of Sports and also to some private individuals to assist us but I have not gotten any reply, yet.
By: Kiadum Edookor
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