Dust refuses to settle at Africa’s football body
By Southern Times Reporter
THE latest crusade to tarnish the image of new CAF president Ahmad Ahmad stems from e-mails published by British newspaper The Sunday Times just before the 2014 FIFA World Cup in which it claimed Mohamed Bin Hammam, the former FIFA vice-president, used slush funds from 10 private company accounts to make dozens of payments in return for votes.
The Sunday Times released more than 30 leaked emails, which they said was fished from hundreds of millions of documents the newspaper said it had obtained, which suggested there was an element of corruption in the way Bin Hammam and his money was splashed to scores of football leaders around the world.
The newspaper even suggested some of the payments were to try and influence votes for Qatar to win the rights to host the 2022 World Cup even though some of those implicated, like Zambian football legend Kalusha Bwalya, did not vote in the decision-making process. Bwalya is a member of the CAF executive committee.
“As per our conversation, please Mr President if you could assist me with about 50 thousand dollars for my Football association and personal expenditures. I hope to repay you in the near future, as the burden is little bit too hard for me at this moment,” Bwalya wrote to Bin Hammam.
He said the money was meant to help FAZ and would be repaid once the Zambian football governing body’s financial status improved.
“Yali ninnkongole which I offered to pay; (it was a loan which I had to pay),’’ Bwalya told the Zambian media. ‘’When I said I had the money they said no, and that is where we are.
‘’Bin Hammam is a personal friend of mine, I knew him for a long time. He (Bin Hammam) said to me that, ‘if you need any help, let me know, so he said he was going to help me. There were other discussions before what was published, so later I decided to brief him.
“That’s a witch hunt by people who lost the bid (to host the 2022 World Cup). Anyone who is in football knows that I do not vote for the World Cup bid. It’s the FIFA executive committee who vote. In fact the leader of the Qatar bid was another gentleman.
“Zambians should know that I did not take part in voting for the 2022 World Cup hosts and so could not have voted for Qatar. The 30 presidents of football associations in Africa mentioned in the article have no say in who gets the nod to host a World Cup. Even the Sunday Times of the UK know that even though they went ahead and published those lies about us. Voting for World Cup hosts is the matter for the FIFA executive committee.
“At the time of the elections for the Qatar 2022 World Cup I was not yet an office bearer in CAF. I was only elected into CAF executive committee during elections held in Sudan in 2011. Another thing is that the Qatar bid was headed by someone else, not Bin Hammam. Any dealings between me and then FIFA Vice President Bin Hammam was therefore not related to the Qatar 2022 bid.”
Other African Football Bosses
Who Were Implicated
l The Sunday Times claimed £30,000 was paid to 1995 FIFA’s World Footballer of the Year George Weah of Liberia for ‘school fees.’
l Another £31,500 was paid to Fadoul Houssein of the Djibouti Football Association, for an ‘expensive course of medical treatment for his general secretary’ and an all-expenses luxury trip to Saudi Arabia.
l Former Gambian Football Association boss Seedy Kinteh allegedly received £36,000 for a ‘car to travel to football
l A further £480,000 to the Cote d’Ivoire Football Association as part of a FIFA development scheme
l Another £120,000 in cash was paid to 25 delegates flown from Africa to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to discuss the bid in 2008
l Sao Tome Football Association president Manuel Dende, asked for £138,000 for ‘football pitches’ to be paid into his personal account and got £30,000
l In total, the Sunday Times alleged that payments of up to $200,000 were made into accounts controlled by presidents of 30 African football associations
l The guests, according to the allegations, brought along their families and were paid US$5 000 each as spending money
l The newspaper claimed Swaziland Football Association president Adam “Bomber” Mthethwa allegedly requested a US$30,000 in payments as his “gratuity will only be paid to me when I reach the age of 55 in 2010.”
l The paper also claimed Bin Hammam arranged for the delivery of sixty tickets for matches at the 2010 FIFA World Cup (valued at £3,800) to the then CAF president and FIFA vice-president Issa Hayatou
l Bin Hammam asked the Sudan Football Association to provide details to make a payment after they claimed not to be able to afford to pay the general assembly
l The newspaper also claimed Seedy Kinteh, the president of the Gambia Football Association was paid US$10,000 and a further US$50,000 for a new car paid through Bin Hammam’s daughter’s bank account.
l The Liberia Football boss Izetta Wesley was allegedly paid US$10,000, according to the newspaper.
l Bin Hammam paid US$400,000 to fund FIFA’s Goal programme with all the money, according to the newspaper, going to fund projects in Cameroon, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire
l The Namibia Football Association, according to The Sunday Times’ report, was paid US$50,000 to help with “second division leagues that went crippled by the prevailing global economic meltdown.”
l The Somali Football Federation, according to the newspaper, got US$100,000 that was paid through Bin Hammam daughter’s account
l The Confederation of East and Central African Football Associations was allegedly paid US$200,000 just three days after the World Cup bids had been decided to fund the 2010 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup
Hayatou denied the allegations in a detailed response.
“The President of the Confederation of African Football and Vice President of FIFA, Issa Hayatou has denied categorically the allegations of corruption published by the UK Sunday Times in its edition of 1st June 2014. Before publication of the article, Mr Issa Hayatou received an email on May 30, 2014 at 18:21 from one of the Sunday Times’ representatives, Heidi Blake, summoning the CAF President to respond to questions sent by e-mail before the next day, 31 May 2014, at 16:00,’’ he said in a statement.
‘’The email expressed fanciful allegations that Mr Hayatou would have received valuable gifts from Mr Bin Hammam and would have also been greatly pampered during a tour in Doha in December 2009.
‘’The CAF President never attended events from invitations of Mr Bin Hammam either in Doha or Kuala Lumpur. The Sunday Times representative also carried a number of serious accusations against Mr Hayatou, which included allegations that Mr Bin Hammam, as President at the time of the committee of the FIFA Goal Project would have favoured the Cameroonian federation with a project worth US$400,000 in exchange of support and votes for Qatar.
‘’Yet the allegation ‘demonstrated cruel ignorance of the functions of FIFA bodies. In FIFA Committees, decisions are not taken by presidents of the Committees unilaterally but are collective decisions. As current president of the FIFA Development Committee, Mr Hayatou understands how any such Committee programmes are planned and decided.
‘’Mr Hayatou has never received any money from Mr Bin Hammam, the Emir of Qatar or any member of the Qatar 2022 Bidding Committee; on the other hand the Sunday Times asked Mr Hayatou what the subject of the meeting was between the Emir of Qatar and President of Cameroon. Mr Hayatou questioned the level of professionalism and the allegations as there was no such meeting between Emir of Qatar and President of Cameroon.
‘’To Heide Blakes’ allegation that Mr. Bin Hammam arranged for medical treatment for Hayatou at a private clinic after he voted for Qatar 2022, no such arrangement was made and is a pure invention. The only treatment Mr Hayatou received in Qatar related to a dialysis session in Doha in early January 2011 during the AFC Congress, for which as usual, he was invited.’’