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Monday, February 04, 2019

Trouble looms @CAF: Liberian Bility resigns, accuses Fahmy of hijack - ITREALMS

Trouble may be looming in the Confederation of African Football (CAF), as the Liberian Executive Committee Member of CAF, Musa Hassan Bility, has resigned his position in CAF over alleged marginalisation by President, Amr Fahmy, reports ITREALMS.

He also alleged hijacking of CAF by the President and his cabal, lamenting that guiding principles, mission and vision are being eroded, mostly with the recent appointment of “General Coordinator of CAF” which runs in parallel with the office of the General Secretary.
ITREALMS recalls that CAF is the administrative and controlling body for African association football. CAF represents the national football associations of Africa, runs continental, national, and club competitions, and controls the prize money, regulations and media rights to those competitions.

Bility in his resignation letter sighted by 
ITREALMS, said he has petitioned the world football body, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) over this ugly development and sidelining.

"I was constrained to copy FIFA in my last email on this matter dated January 30, 2019. And I can assure you that a credible investigation into this matter will prove that there are serious flaws in CAF Financial Management system and the fact that money can leave our accounts without proper check and balance is a serious matter and needs to be investigated by the Executive Committee. We must not take this matter lightly. This is a sign that we are sitting on a financial time bomb. We need to pay attention," he said.

The resignation letter dated February 1, 2019 which was addressed to CAF president and obviously copied members of CAF Executive Committee, has the subject "My formal resignation as member of the Emergency Committee and President of CHAN Standing Committees."

Described by industry analysts as trouble brewing in CAF, the letter read in part:

"My esteemed colleagues,

"It is with sadness and a huge sense of disappointment that I tender in my resignation from the above respective designations. However, I thought it would be appropriate and respectful of me to state a few reasons why I have come to such an unfortunate conclusion.

"After almost two years in this Administration, I can no longer summon the courage to work in

these posts at the whims and caprices of the President who I believe is heading this Noble Organization in the wrong direction. As an Executive Committee Member, duly elected by my peers across the Continent, I find it totally unacceptable that if I disagree with the President or any of his “close associates” on certain issues, he would take that against me and decide whether or not I function in my official capacities. Of course, my dear colleagues, I would never accept to work under such conditions. This is not what I stand for. You know me better.

"As President of CHAN, the President scheduled a meeting of CHAN Committee without any

prior discussion with me regarding the purpose of the meeting or its agenda. And as President of this Committee I’m expected to preside over such meeting without first appreciating what it is about or seeks to achieve; of course not. I would have thought that the President will realize that I will never take such disrespectful attitude from anyone. But obviously, this is how the President has been running the affairs of CAF in every aspect since he took over the mantle of leadership. As he loudly proclaimed in our last meeting that “I am the President of CAF, I am the President of every committee”. Of course not, Mr. President you are the President of CAF but not the President of all Committees. These are Statutory Committees and must function

independently and report to the Executive Committee in accordance with their statutory mandates. "Assuming their responsibilities, as you are doing now, makes it impossible for you to play your role as the Head of CAF. Obviously, performing these tasks deprives you of the roles you ought to play such as to supervise or counter check or review the performances of others.

"This is precisely why the framers of our Statues enshrined the appropriate administrative layers in it for the smooth and transparent function of our noble Institution. It is important that we all understand that the CAF Statues does not provide for an Executive Presidency. The Executive authority of CAF is vested in the EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.

"In other words, you cannot assume authorities you do not have. Every decision of the President of CAF must be approved by the Executive Committee. Clearly, this is not the case today. VISA, AFCON, are recent examples of your overreach. The irony is, this is exactly what we fought to change. Sorry sir, we don’t want a replay of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. We owe so much to our comrades who entrusted us to lead this change. We cannot let them down. I will certainly not be a party to such betrayal of their trust in us.

"Clearly, my dear colleagues, I have two options here: to remain as a figurehead President of CHAN/Emergency Committee member while the President runs them as he wishes to, or take the moral high ground of stepping down and let the President carry on as he is doing now with every Committee. Another option would be to stay on and fight every day ad be branded as a “Rebel”. I have been unfairly suspended before. I have suffered irreparable reputational damage. I have struggled enough and suffered numerous bashing and character assignation in my quest for fairness in Football. It has cost me more than I can bear any longer. I have been accused of being without “integrity” by those who brought football to it kneels at both FIFA and CAF. It may still cost me even more today or tomorrow or the day after as the vestiges of yester years remain imbedded into the global system of football waiting to strike anyone who played any meaningful role in tearing down their walls of power, money, and glory. But I get that. I understand very well that those who bring about change normally don’t stick around to see or bask in its light. That’s the price we pay. That’s the price I’ve always prepared myself to ultimately pay.

"But if I can leave football today knowing that I played a pivotal role in that famous second round victory for Gianni Infantino who, along with his incredible team, has brought so much change and dynamism to FIFA, my battle would never have been in vain. FIFA has regained its reputation and is on course to higher heights under the able Leadership of the Infantino and his Team. I repeat: TEAM. Sadly, I cannot say that of CAF today. In fact, I believe we are worse than we were two years ago. Our situation is such that today the President has demonstrated brazen disregard for the Executive Committee but chooses to run CAF with close associates he feels comfortable around and carries a certain degree of respect for. Unfortunately, he has simply forgotten that it took men and women of courage who toiled days and nights, throwing everything into the rings to ensure that he emerged as President.

"I know that members of this august body are keeping quiet not out of fear and cowardice, but to keep the sanctity of this Noble Institution that means so much to all and sundry. I just cannot hold back any longer as this may lead to bigger problems in the near future.

"Another case in point is my recent public disagreement with the 2nd Vice President on the issue of awarding AFCON 2021. When I was asked by a journalist as to whether we have awarded AFCON 2021 to Cameroon, I said no we have not. As you all know, this Executive Committee has not made any such decision. So, I saw nothing wrong with my statement.

"In fact, I was referencing the official position of CAF which was issued in a Press Release after the Accra Exco Meeting. That release was very clear: we decided to strip Cameroon of AFCON 2019 and was considering all other options on how to deal with the issues of 2019/2021/2023.

"As far as I was concerned, the issue surrounding the media blaze about AFCON 2021 was resolved amongst ourselves thanks to the positive intervention of most members of the Exco.

But surprisingly, I was astonished to know that the President still carries this issue against me.

In reaction to my statement, the President decided not to Invite me to the last Emergency Committee meeting held in Cairo. I sent him a message asking why I have not been invited, he read it and refused to respond to me. I thought this was totally condescending to a member of an Executive Committee that he presides over. Of course, I can understand why the President wouldn’t want me to attend such meeting at this time. Obviously, he knows that I have questions that will require answers at this meeting. He knows that I would have objected to the appointment of a “General Coordinator of CAF”.

"A position that is not statutory and is totally uncalled for. Worst still, I do not see the need for an Emergency Committee decision on establishing such a position of relevance that clearly seeks to fundamentally change the way in which the CAF Secretariat functions, redefine the role of the General Secretary, and creates an unnecessary expense line in our already overblown budget. I urge you to reverse this decision in our next Exco meeting otherwise we will become a subject of ridicule around the world. Let’s not be a rubber stamp Exco. Let’s agree to respectfully disagree.

"The current composition of the CAF Standing Committees clearly begs question of good governance and transparency. We have 54 members and there’s absolutely no reason why any Standing Committee (especially the key ones) should have more than one person from a member Association/Country. I have discussed this with the President and he has responded in the usual manner: “I’m the President and I do as I want”.

Lastly, and very sadly, the President’s approach to issues concerning his colleagues is rather sad and divisive. A case in point has to do with a $200,000 that was wired by CAF to an unknown account in Europe. This money was designated for the Liberian FA while I was serving as its President. But interestingly CAF sent it to the account of a firm in Poland that deals in artifacts.

CAF claims it received the instruction from the Liberia FA to send the funds to this firm. Of

course, this is false and misleading. This begs two very important questions: Can CAF send funds intended for MA to a third-party beneficiary? In the wake of tight International restrictions on financial transactions aimed at combating terrorism and money laundering, were requirements such as Invoice and contract that would clearly state the purpose for which the funds were sent presented to the CAF before it authorized these transactions? And if any, where these instruments in conformity with CAF Financial regulations? Why would CAF authorize a payment intended for football development in a member Association’s Country to a firm that deals in artefacts two years in a row without any red flag? Why CAF didn’t request for the first utilization report before sending the second payment to the same dubious recipients?

Instead of the President viewing this as a serious and material breach of the CAF Financial systems, he is employing his usual divide and rule tactics to spread rumours around that I’m implicated in this matter. And even more disturbing is the fact that he has refused to take any action even though I have written CAF two emails raising concerns over this matter and asking for investigation. Nothing has been done. I was constrained to copy FIFA in my last email on this matter dated January 30, 2019. And I can assure you that a credible investigation into this matter will prove that there are serious flaws in CAF Financial Management system and the fact that money can leave our accounts without proper check and balance is a serious matter and needs to be investigated by the Executive Committee. We must not take this matter lightly. This is a sign that we are sitting on a financial time bomb. We need to pay attention.

My dear colleagues, these issues and many more have left me with no option but to resign  these two posts simply because the President has decided that either I agree with him without questioning anything or don’t function. It is my hope that my resignations will serve as a wake up call for us to stand firm and ensure that CAF is managed properly in accordance with the Statues in order to bring real change to African Football. These were our guiding principles during our quest for change. Don’t let our mission and vision be hijacked mid-air. 

Babji Boye/Editor

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