06/20 11:55 CDT Rift grows over FIFA placing Samoura in Africa clean-up role
Rift grows over FIFA placing Samoura in Africa clean-up role
By ROB HARRIS
AP Global Soccer Writer
FIFA and Europe are in another rift, this one over the hasty decision to send
secretary general Fatma Samoura to lead an attempted clean-up of the
scandal-plagued African confederation.
In an unprecedented move, Samoura is due to move to Cairo as FIFA General
Delegate for Africa for an initial six-month period starting in August to lead
what is described as a "full forensic audit" of the Confederation of African
FIFA did not make Samoura available for comment Thursday or explain why CAF
President Ahmad of Madagascar, who goes by one name, remains in power despite
an ongoing ethics investigation. He has been accused of sexual harassment and
bribery, as well as personal and financial impropriety.
The remarkable intervention by FIFA into one of its six confederations appeared
to be promoted by Ahmad. But FIFA President Gianni Infantino failed to gain
complete backing for Samoura's shift from Zurich to Cairo from all regional
confederation leaders who form the FIFA bureau.
In a letter seen by The Associated Press, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin
told Infantino he opposed Samoura's appointment over concerns about conflicts
of interests with her remaining FIFA secretary general while assigned to Cairo.
Ceferin also complained of the lack of time given for UEFA to consider approval
and for FIFA's failure to provide in writing that the CAF executive committee
approved of Samoura's appointment.
Ceferin wrote to Infantino "never in the history of our institutions has the
FIFA secretary general, who under the FIFA's statutes leads the organization,
been" sent to lead a confederation "even with the latter's consent."
Ceferin has clashed with Infantino over FIFA's desire to create new
international competitions. He said notification of the proposal was only
received at 1:50 a.m. Thursday and a response was sought by 10:30 a.m.
Ceferin feared Infantino was trying to turn the FIFA bureau into a "mere rubber
CAF Vice President Amaju Pinnick said Ceferin's comments were a sign "he
doesn't have respect for Africa."
Samoura, a Senegalese former United Nations official, was appointed FIFA's
first female secretary general in 2016 after Infantino became FIFA's president.
Samoura has played little public role in the biggest decisions in world
football over the last three years, despite having the biggest staff at FIFA
under her command and a title that usually is among the most powerful roles in
Samoura has not appeared at news conferences after meetings of the FIFA
congress and council. Infantino, a former UEFA general secretary, has become
the face of FIFA.
FIFA has not explained how it is able to lose the head of its administration
for a role at a confederation, especially following Zvonimir Boban's decision
last week to resign as deputy secretary general for football matters in order
to take a job with AC Milan. Scottish lawyer Alasdair Bell is well placed to
assume Samoura's responsibilities, having been brought over from UEFA in
September as the deputy secretary general running the administration.
While Samoura retains her position of secretary general, Infantino told members
of the FIFA Bureau that she "will delegate her functions within the FIFA
administration in accordance with the relevant internal regulations."
Ceferin responded by asking Infantino for an "accurate description of the role
and powers of the FIFA General Delegate for Africa, an accurate description of
the way FIFA would function in her absence."
Samoura's role in Africa could be extended beyond the six months with the
approval of FIFA and CAF.
Announced on the eve of the opening of the African Cup of Nations, FIFA said
Samoura's move is necessary to "bring stability, serenity, professionalism and
effective football development on the African continent where the passion for
football is so prevalent."
Overseeing CAF operations and competitions, FIFA said Samoura "will be assisted
by a group of experts who will work in a spirit of partnership with President
Ahmad was detained for questioning by French authorities while attending a FIFA
meeting in Paris two weeks ago, then was released without being charged.
Ahmad led a CAF executive committee meeting earlier this month that decided to
annul the outcome of the African Champions League final.
The second leg will be replayed after Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca walked off
in protest over review video not working and Tunisian side Esperance was
awarded the victory. CAF did not fully explain why it overturned the outcome.
FIFA claims Ahmad backed Samoura's appointment to "conclusively accelerate the
implementation of the ongoing reform process destined to ensure that CAF
functions with transparency, efficiency while abiding to the highest governance
standards." CAF has yet to provide details of the reform process.
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