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Governing Bodies

From prison to the throne: Jailed candidate set to win Mali FA elections

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Mamatou 'Bavieux' Toure is set to win a second term as Mali FA president despite being jailed for corruption

This Tuesday, a football election like few others will take place in Mali when the one-and-only candidate, the current president of Mali’s football federation (Femafoot), looks set to win a four-year term from a prison cell.

Mamatou Toure, widely known as Bavieux, is currently in jail in the Malian capital Bamako as he awaits trial after being accused of embezzling funds during his time as a financial and administrative director in Mali’s National Assembly.

The 66-year-old, who has led Femafoot since 2019, is a member of both the Fifa Council, the board of football’s world governing body, and the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (Caf).

He is also the sole candidate for the elections after being the only one of four men to pass an eligibility test, which he managed to do prior to being indicted on 9 August by the Malian state for “attacking public property as well as forgery and use of forgery and complicity”. Along with four others, Toure is accused – in charges that all deny – of embezzling a reported US$28 million from the state purse.

Toure is a former tax inspector with a master’s degree in auditing. The charges against him cover a period between 2013 and 2019, when the five representatives of the then ruling RPM (‘Rassemblement pour le Mali’) party were in power, and which largely pre-date Toure’s election as Femafoot president in August 2019.

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On the eve of Tuesday’s elections, BBC Sport Africa can highlight a series of financial gaps that have taken place within Femafoot under the administration of Toure. While hundreds of thousands of dollars remain unaccounted for, so several of Mali’s national team trainers have complained about going unpaid for many months.

Financial questions

An audit conducted into Femafoot’s finances of 2022, conducted by the Pyramis group and dated March 2023, which has been seen by the BBC, shows that Femafoot did not pay any taxes to the Malian state regarding its employees.

“Femafoot deducted taxes and duties from staff salaries for a total amount of CFA 23,9m [just under $40,000],” the audit stated. “Femafoot did not declare or pay these taxes and duties.”

The tax failure was not new, since an audit into Femafoot’s financial affairs of 2020 (covering January-September) had also found it did not pay the country’s inland revenue ‘all the tax deductions it retains on salaries paid to its staff’. That same 2020 audit (conducted by the Cabinet Ficogec group) also stated that key financial and management reports had gone missing.

In addition to the tax issue, the March 2023 audit showed that nearly $50,000 were awarded to unspecified ‘other parties’ without any reason given nor any approval agreed by Femafoot’s board for the payments – in direct contradiction of the body’s statutes. When sports equipment was sold for just over US$300,000, US$138.5k was registered in Femafoot’s account and US$144k was paid – in cash – to MK Productions, the company reported as providing the sports kit, so leaving US$22k unaccounted for.

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Without receiving documents relating to the sales, with the auditors citing no inventory not itemised sales, Pyramis declared themselves ‘unable to comment on the correct valuation of the sports equipment sales’. The BBC can find no record for a sports company called MK Productions within Mali – where the only-registered company with that name works in media, not sportswear.

The questions raised in the 2023 audit follow a theme from 2022, when a document signed by 44 Malian football officials – nearly all of whom were presidents of clubs, including some of the country’s top sides – also raised several financial concerns.

One of these was how Femafoot spent nearly US$1.25m in the final quarter of 2020, despite none of this being presented to the federation’s executive committee for approval (while also questioning why this quarter was not covered by Cabinet Ficogec’s 2020 audit).

Addressed to Mali’s then political rulers, the document also queried what Femafoot had done with the $790,000 it received from Caf regarding the country’s participation at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, money that should have been refunded to the Malian government since the latter finances the country’s national football teams.

Finally, no financial report has been presented to Femafoot’s general assembly, where all its members gather, for the past three years, which contravenes Fifa statutes. The BBC has sent questions regarding all the financial issues outlined above to Femafoot but has yet to receive a response.

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Sole Candidate

Despite the serious pending charges against him, Toure is the sole candidate for Tuesday’s Femafoot presidential election – after three others failed to pass the eligibility test. One candidate, former Femafoot media spokesperson Salaha Baby, did initially pass, but Toure successfully appealed his eligibility to rule him out of the race.

“The disqualifications of our candidacies follow a multitude of fanciful procedures by the armed arms of the Femafoot president,” Sekou Diogo Keita, a former vice-president of Femafoot, told BBC Sport Africa.

“Why is no one taking any action? The only candidacy validated is the one of someone actually jailed.”

Keita, who has written to Fifa to complain about the ongoing process as well as Femafoot’s financial affairs, is currently serving a five-year ban issued by the Malian football body in 2022 on charges he describes as politically-charged. Meanwhile, Femafoot has failed to answer a question about showing bias towards its current president when asked by the BBC.

Toure’s would-be rivals have appealed his eligibility – arguing, among other matters, that he should have declared the pending state investigation into him when filling out his eligibility form for the Femafoot post.

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“Are you currently the subject of a disciplinary, criminal or civil procedure or investigation?” asks one of the questions on the Femafoot eligibility form.

Toure’s rivals believe he either failed to accurately answer the above question or simply did not fill in any form.

On 15 August, Baby formally wrote to sport’s highest court, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, to appeal against Toure’s candidacy and request the reinstatement of his own.

“Being a member of the Fifa Council cannot spare Mamoutou Touré from the good governance protocol established by your body,” wrote Keita to Fifa Secretary General Fatma Samoura.

In response, Fifa – which is sending emissaries to oversee Tuesday’s vote, as are Caf – said it “has been closely following the electoral process”.

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“Any dispute concerning the electoral process should follow the established legal procedures,” the governing body added. “Please note that all Fifa Forward projects undergo an annual central review by Fifa.”

-BBC

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Governing Bodies

CAF set to break even after ‘toxic’ past

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President Patrice Motsepe (left) has been vital to turning around the Confederation of African Football's financial fortunes, says secretary general Veron Mosengo-Omba (right)

The Confederation of African Football will be debt free next year as a result of improved governance since Patrice Motsepe became president of a “toxic” body in 2021, says its secretary general Veron Mosengo-Omba.

Installed as deputy just days after the South African billionaire was appointed president, Mosengo-Omba says Caf’s level of debt when the pair took over was about $40m (£31m).

He says this figure has more than halved since, with the tally set to drop even further when Caf’s financial accounts are presented later this year.

“I think we will present a [deficit] figure to the Caf congress of less than $12m (£9.3m),” Mosengo-Omba told BBC Sport Africa.

“For the next fiscal year, [the debt] will be zero.”

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The Caf financial year runs from the start of July to the end of June, with accounts traditionally presented to congress in October, meaning the organisation could be debt-free in just under 12 months’ time.

Mosengo-Omba, who hails from DR Congo but who also holds Swiss nationality, says that credit for the turnaround must go to his 62-year-old boss.

“Motsepe and his executive coming in was, for me, a gift for African football,” said the lawyer, who worked as Fifa’s chief member associations officer before joining Cairo-based Caf.

“In 2021, Caf was a toxic company – nobody trusted Caf. When Motsepe came, he put the principle of good governance and integrity in all levels of the organisation.

“This brings confidence to our partners.”

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One of Africa’s richest men, with a fortune estimated at $3.1bn, external (£2.4b) by Forbes, Motsepe replaced the previous administration led by Madagascar’s Ahmad.

Elected president in 2017 when he dethroned long-standing Caf president Issa Hayatou, Ahmad’s tenure was blighted by scandal, with the Malagasy – who denies wrongdoing – banned for two years by Fifa for breaking its ethics codes, including ‘misappropriation of funds’.

The Hayatou administration maintains that it left over $100m (£77.4m) in reserves when it departed, with the funds declining vastly under Ahmad, whose regime increased salaries, cut Caf’s biggest-ever broadcast deal before then suffering some Covid-enforced losses.

Under Motsepe meanwhile, the number of sponsors of Caf’s flagship Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) competition has risen from 10 for the 2021 finals in Cameroon to 17 for the 2023 edition, which was played in January this year.

It also gained a global television audience of 1.1 billion, with double that tally – 2.2 billion – accessing the tournament’s digital content.

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“In Cameroon we generated about $4-5 million (£3-4m) profit. In Ivory Coast the profit was more than $75 million (£58m). This shows we are [going] in a good direction and for Morocco, the next edition, I think [the profit] will be increased by 50%,” said Mosengo-Omba.

Most of this increase is coming from sponsors and television rights, with the secretary general also declaring himself “very happy” that Caf generated $14m (£10.8m) after taking ticketing and hospitality in-house for the first time.

Despite recent comments by Afcon-winning Ivory Coast coach Emerse Fae, Mosengo-Omba dispelled suggestions that the tournament could become a four-yearly affair by reiterating the fact that the governing body’s greatest income comes every two years from the finals, which next kick off in December 2025.

“The periodicity of Afcon is not on the table,” he said. “We need the money from Afcon every two years to run football in Africa.”

Mosengo-Omba also sought to strongly defend Caf’s approach to dealing with allegations of corruption against some of its senior administrators, insisting it is “not protecting crooks”.

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Malian federation president Mamatou Toure is currently on trial for embezzling public funds in the West African country, while counterpart Wadie Jary is facing corruption charges in Tunisia.

Both men, who have denied the charges after their detentions last year, remain both in prison and members of Caf’s executive committee.

Pressed on why neither has been suspended, Mosengo-Omba said the organisation could only take action once court cases are settled in their respective countries.

“We suspend [people] provisionally if we are investigating the case ourselves,” he added.

“We respect the sovereignty of each country. When we have the verdict of the court, we’ll take a decision. Nobody is above the law in Caf – no-one.”

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In May, Toure – a member of the Fifa council – reportedly dialled into a Fifa meeting from his prison cell in the Malian capital Bamako.

“If Messrs Toure and Jary committed crime according to the respective regulations of each country, take them to court,” the Swiss-Congolese said.

“How can Caf intervene in the situation?”

-BBC

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Governing Bodies

Tinubu backs Amaju’s FIFA Council re-election bid

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Former Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, Amaju Pinnick has secured the backing of Nigeria’s President,  Bola Tinubu in his bid to get another term in office as one of Africa’s representatives in FIFA Council.

The 37-member FIFA  Council is the main decision making body of the organisation in the intervals of FIFA Congress. 

Pinnick is the third Nigerian to ever sit in the FIFA Council after Oyo Orok Oyo (1980-1988) and Dr. Amos Adamu (2006-2010).

Pinnick was elected into the council on 12 March 2021. He is bidding for re-election in 2025 when the current term lapses.

According to a media release from the State House and signed by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity,

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President Bola Tinubu expresses strong support for Nigeria’s bid for re-election into the FIFA Council

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Governing Bodies

Save Our Soccer, African Sports Journalists plead with Motsepe

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

An SOS has been sent by the International Sports Press – Africa (AIPS -Africa) to the President of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Dr. Patrice Motsepe to save the soul of African soccer.

 The sports writers’ body has written an open letter to Motsepe on the need to do more to save African football.

The letter, written Monday in Dakar, is premised on the recurring scheduling problems that “have made CAF a victim of collateral damage from the “war” between UEFA and FIFA.”

Continuing in the letter signed by AIPS-Africa President, Abdoulaye Thiam, the sports writers’ body noted that UEFA contributed to overloading of the international calendar with the creation of the Nations League, which is played on FIFA dates

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Owing to the congested international calendar, football competitions in Africa have been major victims.

AIPS wrote: …”the stuttering and uncertainties surrounding the programming of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) leave many wondering about the future of our continent’s most prestigious competition, which is struggling to find a place in the international calendar.

“Added to this, the external influences and the overload of the international calendar, modelled on the European interests, increases the scepticism surrounding the survival of CAF’s most lucrative and economically viable tournament.

“As a result, therefore, it is rare, if not impossible, for an African team to find a European team to spar with, except when they share the same group in a World Cup draw every four years.     

“As for FIFA, in addition to the Arab World Cup, it has also created the Club World Cup. Worse still, it decided to stage the latter competition from June 15 to July 13, 2025, a period initially chosen by Morocco to host the AFCON 2025. In fact, Cairo’s dependence on Zurich enabled FIFA’s latest competition to happily shake up the 67-year-old African Cup of Nations.”

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Also affected by the global football calendar are the scheduling of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and African Women’s Champions League.

The journalists recalled that the changing of AFCON tournaments from the even-ending years to the odd  was to avert situations of clashing with World Cup years and to avert exhaustion on players.

The situation is such that scheduling of tournaments in Africa is now determined by compromise reached with UEFA and FIFA.

AIPS averred that “it is important to deconstruct the image of Africa as a prominent stakeholder in the global game with huge voice of 54 member associations and votes being presented as an electoral cattle-tank, to be adequately given their fair share during debates and dialogues with FIFA, by offering constructive solutions with a view to accelerating a reform of the international calendar.

“It is therefore expected from CAF leaders to ensure respect for African Football which is full of great administrators and players alike…Mr. President (Motsepe), you claim to be a disciple of Nelson Mandela and a well respectable man. A man of principles. So do kindly refuse and remain our inspiration than anything else.”  

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