Fifa’s partnership with African football comes under ever greater threat

By Tony Attwood

Fifa has just been dealt a significant blow in its attempts to take on direct control of all elements of world football after a critic of Fifa’s African takeover who was banned for 10 years for allegedly stealing Ebola funds (Issa Hayatou) has been overturned by Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The “Former Liberia Football Association president Musa Bility, who tried to become FIFA president in 2015,” was banned from football for 10 years and fined just over £400,000 Fifa.

Now we are told (and this comes from the BBC) that CAS found that there was not “sufficient evidence to establish a violation” of the FIFA code of ethics, as it heard the appeal of the 75-year-old Cameroonian leader, the body said in a statement issued Friday…

“He had been found guilty of violating his duty of loyalty to CAF, which he led between 1988 and 2017, for his action in signing a contract with Lagardère Sports in September 2016.

“This guaranteed the French company the management of TV and marketing rights for competitions organized by CAF until 2028. Mr. Hayatou had referred the matter to CAS in August 2021.”

Now it looks as if Infantino, the man in charge of Fifa, but subject to legal investigations in Switzerland for colluding with the most senior legal officer in the country, while under investigation for other serious matters, and who has since moved himself and his family to Qatar, is seeing some of his attempt to control African football directly from Fifa, slip away.

This is a second defeat in a very short while since previously Infantino ‘backed the postponement of the Africa Cup of Nations – another matter on which he was challenged and overturned.  Indeed it is quite possible that Infantino was made aware of the likelihood of this forthcoming defeat and so, with his plans starting to crumble and the situation in Switzerland hotting up, decided to go to Qatar to live, from when he cannot be extradited.

Indeed while the British media assiduously ignores all such issues, not wanting any matters to interfere with its policy of kowtowing to all things Fifarian, the media elsewhere is certainly seeing this as a significant move.

Thus for example, Inside World Football asks,  Is Infantino losing Africa? CAF furiously questions FIFA ‘partnership’ over Gueye ban   Sadly such a question will be meaningless to most English readers who get their news from the British media, for the whole issue of Fifa’s extraordinary actions in Africa have been subject to a blackout.

Indeed the Inside World Football article opened with, “Cracks look to be appearing in FIFA’s suffocating dominance of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), divisions that could signal a weakening FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s powerbase within his core support.”

Suffocating dominance?   No one in the British media has talked about any type of dominance.

It is not the only issue that has raised more than eyebrows as Insideworldfootball, also reports that “CAF general secretary Veron Mosengo-Omba wrote to FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura, furiously questioning the timing of why FIFA only informed Senegalese player Papa Gueye of his ban from competition on the team bus on the way to his country’s opening match,” and this in relation to a case that had lasted over a year.

Such problems came after Fifa tried to impose a last minute ban on the entire competition citing covid as the reason.

The conclusion Inside World Football reaches is that “a gap has opened up between CAF’s billionaire South African president Motsepe, Infantino and Fifa. Motsepe has widely been regarded as Fifa’s African puppet, bending to the ideas and demands of FIFA unquestioningly. But Motsepe is also a businessman who is meticulous about his reputation and does have an ambition for Africa that is perhaps more important to him than FIFA’s imperialist requirements.

“Mosengo-Omba is a former member of Infantino’s inner circle in Zurich, and did much of the political manoeuvring for Infantino in Africa, before he was then parachuted in to run CAF,” Inside World Football tells us.

And this is starting to make the situation a difficult one for the English media to cover.  It is absolutely resolute in not criticising Fifa in any way and so is not mentioning anything in relation to Fifa activities in Africa or Infantino’s activities in moving to Qatar.

Indeed there is little doubt that the national media are under orders from the FA not to criticise Fifa as this might harm an English bid for another world cup final in the country, an event that is being seen as a way of overcoming the serious financial problems that the FA is engaged in, by forcing the UK government to bale out the FA to allow it to participate in such a project.

It may however be recalled that last time the FA put in a bid it got two votes.  One of which was its own.