The head of African football, Ahmad Ahmad, has been banned from football for five years by FIFA following an ethics investigation by the world football’s governing body.
Ahmad, who is president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), had intended to stand for re-election in March, a campaign in which he would have faced a number of challengers.
The ban was announced during the Madagascan official’s campaign for four more years as the head of CAF. His position also makes him a FIFA vice president.
In a statement on Monday, FIFA said the independent Ethics Committee had found Ahmad guilty of offering and accepting gifts and other benefits, and misappropriation of funds.
FIFA had “sanctioned him with a ban from all football-related activity [administrative, sports or any other] at both national and international level for five years”, it said.
Ahmad, who was also fined 200,000 Swiss francs ($220,000), declined to comment when contacted by the Reuters news agency.
Ahmad’s first four-year term was clouded with allegations of financial wrongdoing and misconduct at the CAF headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.
He was detained by French authorities in Paris on the eve of the Women’s World Cup for questioning about a CAF equipment deal with a company that appeared to have little connection with football.
“The investigation into Mr Ahmad’s conduct in his position as CAF President during the period from 2017 to 2019 concerned various CAF-related governance issues, including the organisation and financing of an Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca, his involvement in CAF’s dealings with the sports equipment company Tactical Steel and other activities,” FIFA said in its statement.
An audit of CAF finances pointed to irregularities under Ahmad’s leadership. The report was ordered by FIFA while it effectively took over running the organisation for six months.
CAF appeared to pay about $100,000 for 18 people, including Ahmad and the heads of some of the continent’s 54 national member federations, to travel on Umrah the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
The CAF election is scheduled for March 12 next year in Rabat, Morocco.