Highlights of Ahmad's troubled CAF presidency

African football has been rocked not only by the firing of CAF general secretary Amr Fahmy for whistle blowing, but also a walk off in the Champions League final and the alleged assault on a referee b

When Malagasy football association president Ahmad Ahmad took over the presidency of Africa’s governing body in March 2017, he pledged to develop the game of football on the continent and reform the scandal-tainted organisation.

Two years later, Ahmad has been compelled to hand over the mandate to manage football on the continent to FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura.

Ahmad who is being investigated over corruption and sexual misconduct allegations, will also have to work with FIFA to conduct a forensic audit of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

READ MORE: FIFA takes over management of African football

In this article, we will highlight five key events that have shaped Ahmad’s time at the helm of African football;

Elected CAF president

Ahmad pulled off a major upset when he beat Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou to the presidency of CAF in Addis Ababa in 2017. Hayatou had been president of CAF for 29 years.

“When you try to do something, you mean that you can do it. If I can’t do it, I never stand,” Ahmad told journalists after garnering 34 votes against Hayatou’s 20.

The little-known official, whose Madagascar had never qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations at the time, pledged to make CAF more transparent.

The 59-year-old former football player and coach had also pledged to introduce a new code of ethics and extend ethics checks on African football officials.

Ahmad’s vision was seen to be consistent and attractive to that of newly elected FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, who was on a mission to salvage the reputation of the football governing body.

Ambitious expansion plans

In July 2017, CAF delegates approved changes to the management of football competitions including the expansion of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) from 16 to 24 teams.

Other key changes that were agreed at the two-day symposium held in Morocco included;

  • AFCON to be hosted in June-July rather than January-February.

  • CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup shifted to an August-May calendar, rather than inside a single calendar year

  • increase indemnities to referees

  • organise zonal Nations Cup qualifiers for the tournament at age-grade levels

  • improve international partnerships and relations between CAF, its member associations, national governments and the African Union

The switch from the January to the June window, was widely welcomed especially by European clubs that had long complained about the loss of African players during AFCON.

There were however some concerns over whether African nations that had struggled to host the 16-team tournament, would have the infrastructure to cope with a 24-team format.

Cameroon hosting crisis

Indeed hardly one year later, CAF triggered an AFCON organisational crisis, when it withdrew hosting rights from Cameroon, with a little over six months to the tournament (AFCON 2019).

In 2014, Cameroon, along with Ivory Coast and Guinea had been awarded hosting rights for the 2019,2021 and 2013 tournaments respectively.

CAF then sought to appease Cameroon by offering the continental football giant the AFCON 2021 hosting rights, a decision that was protested by Ivory Coast.

When the dust had settled, Egypt was selected to host AFCON 2019, while Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Guinea would host the 2021, 2023 and 2015 editions respectively.

The crisis exposed CAF’s system of awarding hosting rights, as the country associations repeatedly accused Ahmad of taking unilateral decisions.

READ MORE: Is it time for CAF to revise process of awarding AFCON hosting rights?

Botched Champions League Final

Ahmad was again in the spotlight this month when CAF revoked the African Champions League win by Esperance Tunis, that had been awarded amidst controversy over the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Esperance, which was ordered to return the trophy, medals and prepare for a replay of the second leg against Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca, appealed the CAF decision.

Esperance officials described Ahmad as incompetent and corrupt. The replay of the match set to be hosted in neutral territory will be held after the Nations Cup.

Ahmad arrested in France

Hardly a day after CAF’s controversial decision on the African Champions League final, Ahmad was detained by authorities in France over corruption allegations.

FIFA, which confirmed the arrest of CAF’s president, said it had asked French authorities to share information that might be relevant to its own investigation taking place within its Ethics Committee.

Ahmad was eventually released by the French anti-corruption officials, without charges, but the scandal over a CAF decision to buy sportswear at inflated prices from a French company rather than directly from manufacturers, had rocked the football community in Africa.

Ahmad cedes power to FIFA

FIFA and CAF jointly announced on Thursday that the global body would take over the management of football on the continent.

FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura who is set to take over as “FIFA General Delegate for Africa”, from August this year, is tasked with improving the professionalism of the organisation and support growth and development in all African countries.

The statement added that FIFA are to also undertake a forensic audit of CAF.

Who is Ahmad Ahmad?

  • Born 30 December, 1959

  • CAF president since March 16, 2017

  • FIFA Vice-President, and member of FIFA Council since 2017

  • President of Malagasy Football Federation since 2003

  • Joined politics after a career as football player and coach

  • Served as Secretary of State for Sports, Fisheries minister and Senate vice-president

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Keita, Salah goals help Liverpool beat Salzburg to top UCL Group E

Liverpool beat Salzburg 2-0 to advance as Group E winners, with Salah adding to midfielder Naby Keita’s opener after rounding opposition goalkeeper Cican Stankovic.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp praised Mohamed Salah for showing self-belief after he spurned several straightforward chances before scoring from a tight angle to help the defending champions reach the Champions League knockout stages on Tuesday.

Liverpool beat Salzburg 2-0 to advance as Group E winners, with Salah adding to midfielder Naby Keita’s opener after rounding opposition goalkeeper Cican Stankovic.

“He played really well but didn’t score in the situations we expect him usually to score, but staying on track and making such a decisive and very difficult finish, that probably says much more about him than all of the other goals he has scored,” said Klopp.

“Staying concentrated, belief in the next moment, it was brilliant. A very, very difficult goal but a sensational finish.”

Salah’s goal was his 11th for Liverpool this season and took him to 20 Champions League goals for the club.

Liverpool next host basement-side Watford in the Premier League on Saturday.


Why has no other African won the Ballon d'Or after George Weah? [Football Planet]

Senegalese Sadio Mane and Egyptian Mohamad Salah who have had an impressive run with Liverpool ranked fourth and fifth respectively, causing heartbreak and disappointment to many of their fans

On this edition of Football Planet, Why has no other African footballer won the Ballon d’Or after George Weah?

After Lionel Messi was crowned winner of the 2019 Ballon d’Or, there’s debate about why it has taken so long for a black African football to win the prestigious prize again.

Senegalese Sadio Mane and Egyptian Mohamad Salah who have had an impressive run with Liverpool ranked fourth and fifth respectively, causing heartbreak and disappointment to many of their fans. Some have said they deserved it more than the eventual winner.

George Weah remains the only black African Ballon d’Or winner.

Also on the program, we take you to the CAF Champions League where favorites Esperance, Etoile du Sahel and TP Mazembe have collected maximum points as their opponents struggle.


How Anthony Joshua reclaimed his titles in 'Clash On The Dunes' - Report

“It was his (Joshua’s) night, man,” said Ruiz as his six-month reign ended in the 15,000 seat arena on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh.

Britain’s Anthony Joshua beat Andy Ruiz Jr on a unanimous points decision in Saudi Arabia on Sunday to seize back the heavyweight world championship belts he lost to his Mexican-American opponent in a shock upset last June.

The ‘Clash on the Dunes’ in Diriyah was for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles and Joshua set the pace from the start with a measured masterclass that showed he had learned from the nightmare of New York.

The judges scored the fight 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109 to the 30-year-old Briton.

“It was his night, man,” said Ruiz as his six-month reign ended in the 15,000 seat arena on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh.

The decision to take the fight to Saudi Arabia had been criticised by human rights campaigners but Joshua complimented the hosts and welcomed Ruiz’s suggestion that there should be a third encounter.

“If you heard, we’re going to do it a third,” said the champion.

Ruiz had stopped the previously undefeated Briton in the seventh round at Madison Square Garden but there was to be no second bolt of lightning from the man in the golden gloves and shorts.

He suffered a nasty gash over his left eye early on, with Joshua also bloodied on the brow in the second round to keep the cornermen busy to the end.

As the fight went into the second half, Ruiz was looking frustrated and was warned for illegal blows.

The eighth was more promising, with Joshua momentarily appearing vulnerable, but the Briton took back control and by round 11 had a spring in his step, looking fresh and nimble on his feet while using his height advantage to good effect.

Ruiz knew he needed a knockout but it never came.

Joshua, now with a record of 23 wins and one defeat, had described that June defeat — to a flabby-looking opponent drafted in as a late replacement — as no more than a “minor setback”.

While he made light of it again in victory, he was clearly relieved. “Man, the first time was so nice, I had to do it twice,” he told the crowd.

“I’m used to knocking guys out but last time I realised ‘hang on a minute, I hurt the man and I got caught coming in’. I gave the man his credit. I said to myself I’m going to correct myself and come again.”

Another loss in the early hours of Sunday would have put the 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight champion’s career on the line, with some saying after the last fight that he was finished.


Joshua had shown with his preparations, however, that he meant business — stepping into the ring lighter than ever and more than three stones less than Ruiz who had weighed in considerably heavier than in their first showdown.

The contrast between the two men was a talking point before the fight, with one British boxing writer noting that while Joshua sported a six-pack, his opponent appeared to have consumed one.

Ruiz, embraced by Joshua afterwards, said he would do it differently next time. “I think I didn’t prepare it how I should have. I gained too much weight but I don’t want to give no excuses. He won, he boxed me around,” he said.

“If we do the third, I’m going to get in the best shape of my life.” On the undercard, American Michael Hunter and Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin fought to a draw in their WBA heavyweight eliminator.

British heavyweight Dillian ‘The Body Snatcher’ Whyte beat Poland’s former world title challenger Mariusz Wach on a unanimous points decision.

“I’ve been through hell these last couple of months, but we’re here and back,” said the 31-year-old Whyte who was provisionally suspended in July over an irregular urine supply but cleared by the UK Anti-Doping agency on Friday.


London now Paris: Rwanda signs tourism promotion deal with PSG

Under the deal, PSG will promote Rwandan products, while messages promoting Rwanda will be displayed on its women’s team kit and in the club’s stadium.

Rwanda signed a deal on Wednesday with French soccer club Paris St Germain to promote tourism in the east African nation, its second such agreement since last year.

“We invest part of our tourism revenues in strategic collaborations such as the one with Paris St Germain because we understand the positive effect they have on the overall perception of the country globally,” the Rwanda Development Board’s chief executive, Clare Akamanzi, said in a statement after the signing.

Akamanzi did not say how much Rwanda would pay for the deal. A source close to the French club said it was worth between 8 and 10 million euros.

Under the deal, PSG will promote Rwandan products, while messages promoting Rwanda will be displayed on its women’s team kit and in the club’s stadium.

PSG said on Twitter that it had signed a deal “inviting the world to participate in the remarkable transformation of Rwanda”.

Last May, Rwanda signed a sponsorship and tourism promotion deal with the English soccer club Arsenal.

Rwanda earned $380 million from tourism in 2018, the central bank said last month, and was forecast to earn $405 million this year. It expects to earn $800 million by 2024, mainly from conferences and high-end tourists who trek with gorillas.


Messi wins 2019 Ballon D'or award, Mane fourth

Big disappointment for Africa as Sadio Mane fails to win the 2019 Ballon D’or. The trophy was awarded to Lionel Messi. It’s the Argentine’s sixth title.

Africa still waiting for the day an African player will win the Ballon D’or award after George Weah’s success in 1995. The 2019 edition was won by Argentine Lionel Messi. Sadio Mané came a distant fourth.

A whole continent was waiting for Sadio Mané or Mohamed Salah to cherish his dream of a second Golden Ball. But Africa’s hopes was dashed once again on Monday when the trophy was awarded to Lionel Messi during a ceremony held at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, France. It was sixth Golden Ball won by the Barcelona striker, who surpassed his rival Cristiano Ronaldo as the player with the most award.

Worse, despite his exceptional season, Senegalese striker Sadio Mané failed to reach the podium while his Egyptian team-mate in Liverpool, Mohamed Salah, finished in fifth place in a highly talked about ranking. The podium was completed by the Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk and Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo.

The group stage of CAF’s inter club tournaments kicked off over the weekend. First with the Champions League, which started last Saturday. The start of the tournament was marked in particular by the very fine performance of two-time defending champion. Esperance of Tunis, who defeated Raja Casablanca 2-0, and are already leading Group D thanks to a better goal difference ahead of JS Kabily, who also won at home by 1 goal to nil against AS Vita Club of DR Congo.

The group stage of the Confederation Cup also kicked off on Sunday. All the results are to be found on our website. The competition was an opportunity for the coach of Beninese club FC ESAE to outline their objective of participating in the Confederations cup. Egyptian club Pyramids FC are making waves in their maiden appearance in an African inter club competition by beating Enugu Rangers of Nigeria 3-2 at their own back yard