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Shock sacking of Fahmy grabs the headlines ahead of AFCON event start in Tanzania

AMR Fahmy has been fired from his secretary general job at Confederation of African Football, the body’s supremo Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar doing the unthinkable; wiping out an Egyptian dynasty whose Amr’s father, Moustafa Fahmy, and grandfather Mourad Fahmy, held on to the post almost continuously since 1961.

The news of the sacking numbed CAF operations preparing for the start of the 2019 AFCON U17 tournament in Tanzania on Sunday as well stealing limelight from the continent assembled in Egypt for the draw of the 2019 African Cup of Nations finals set for Friday evening under the famous tourist resort of Giza Pyramids.

Top: Amr Fahmy and above (right), the fired CAF secretary general with Anthony Baffoe, deputy general secretary in charge of development and competitions

Top: Amr Fahmy and above (right), the fired CAF secretary general with Anthony Baffoe, deputy general secretary in charge of development and competitions

At first, there was little explanation as to why Amr Fahmy was booted from his job. Almost no independent Press breaches the tight cauldron round CAF office – only CAF controlled media operators are allowed near CAF aficionados, a trend replicate by heads of affiliate football associations in the continent.

But Ahmad’s action understandably upset sections of CAF administration and by the end of the day details begun to leak out. The sensational sacking of the second most powerful official in African football apparently has to do with corruption allegations swirling around Fahmy’s boss, Ahmad.

Insiders said Fahmy was personally fired by Ahmad at the opening of the tense CAF executive meeting in Cairo on Thursday morning.  Instead of falling on his own sword in the wake of growing and serious allegations of impropriety against him, Ahmad has got rid of his Egyptian number two. The mood indicated that Ahmad blamed Fahmy for the leaks of confidential documents that have heaped suspicion on the nebulous activities of the president.

Mouad Hajji has been CAF’s general administrator since January this year, serving as the link between Ahmad and Fahmy

Mouad Hajji has been CAF’s general administrator since January this year, serving as the link between Ahmad and Fahmy

It is understood that Ahmad cited irreconcilable differences with Fahmy who, ironically, he personally appointed in November 2017, following the overthrow of former long-time CAF leader Issa Hayatou. It was learnt that Ahmad has immediately replaced Fahmy with Moroccan Official Mouad Hajji rather than with a fellow executive committee member.

The move could prove devisive because, although one of hand-picked Ahmad operatives, Germany-born Ghanaian Anthony Baffoe, a former Europe based soccer professional, as deputy general secretary in charge of development and competitions, had shown emerging management capabilities. Hajji has been CAF’s general administrator since January this year, serving as the link between Ahmad and Fahmy, but has now been unilaterally promoted to general secretary.

Insiders said at least three prominent CAF executive committee members warned Ahmad not to take such drastic action and to handle the situation delicately for fear of further fuelling the flames of division within CAF. But they were apparently ignored. At the start of the meeting Ahmad asked staff, including Fahmy who would normally have led proceedings, to leave the room and for the recording of the meeting to be stopped. Ahmad then took full control of the session’s long agenda himself.

Ahmad Ahmad (centre) the CAF President presides in a U17 tournament final in Gitega, Burundi

Ahmad Ahmad (centre) the CAF President presides in a U17 tournament final in Gitega, Burundi

It is unclear at this point if any of the multiple corruption, financial mismanagement and sexual harassment allegations against Ahmad were discussed at the meeting.

Hajji is a close associate of Moroccan FA president Faouzi Lekjaa who also happens to be CAF’s third vice-president, strengthening what has been a shift of power within CAF to Morocco and in favour of those loyal to Ahmad who critics describe to have despot tendencies.

Fahmy’s sacking will clearly exacerbate growing anti-Ahmad sentiments in Africa and because of his closeness to Fifa President Gianni Infantino, have a world repercussion. Scores of top world football leaders, including in Europe, South America, Central America and the USA, including Fifa supremos Sep Blatter, Michele Platini and Jerome Valke were indicted variously for fraud, corruption, bribery and lack of integrity and hounded out, many for life.

From above, to bottom, teams arrive at the Julius Nyerere International Airport, Dar es Salaam for the 2019 AFCON U17 tournament: Nigeria, Angola and Guinea

From above, to bottom, teams arrive at the Julius Nyerere International Airport, Dar es Salaam for the 2019 AFCON U17 tournament: Nigeria, Angola and Guinea

In Africa, many suspects of the ills escaped mainly due to failure of investigation. But since arrival of Infantino at Fifa many from CAF affiliate bodies gotten into trouble, some caught red-handed taking bribery and others expelled from football under lack of integrity, facing court cases of financial embezzlement and crimes against humanity including; Kwesi Nyantakyi, a Ghanaian former Vice-President of Fifa; Chabur Alei Goc of South Sudan, Jamal Malinzi of Tanzania and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona of Central Africa Republic.

Amr Fahmy was appointed in November 2017 as he followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. Fahmy’s grandfather Mourad served as general secretary of CAF from 1961-1982. Mourad was replaced by his son Mustapha, who held the post until 2010 before being appointed as the director of competitions at Fifa.

Earlier Fahmy’s firing and replacement by Hajji appeared to have been a done deal with only Moroccan Press having alluded to each earlier. On April 5, Moroccan ‘e-journal le360’, citing an Egyptian source within CAF had published that Hajji was “likely to be voted for the secretary general position, early next week when the body meets…”

Uganda U17 coach conducts training in Dar es Salaam on Thursday

One of the Uganda U17 coach conducts training in Dar es Salaam on Thursday

It said: “ … Hajji could take up the strategic in replacement of the incumbent, Amr Fahmy who faces a dismissal over alleged leakage of confidential documents.”

But the Moroccan journal added: “Fahmy is suspected for masterminding the leakages of secret documents. CAF and its President Ahmad Ahmad have been marred in corruption allegations. Hajji, if given the new job, will be the second Moroccan Secretary General of the organization after Hicham El Amrani who assumed same responsibility under former and longtime ruler of the African football, Issa Hayatou.”

Meanwhile under this cloud, all eight countries are present in Dar es Salaam for the start of the U17 AFCON. At the National Stadium on Sunday, hosts Tanzania open Group ‘A’ action against Angola at 4pm, East African time, before Nigeria clash with Uganda at &pm.

On the same day Group ‘B’ openers at Azam Sports Complex in Chamazi are:  Guinea v Cameroon (4pm); Morocco v Senegal (7pm).

Today, Friday, the 24 finalists at this year’s Cup of Nations will discover who they will play when the tournament gets underway in June. Draw at Giza Pyramids takes place at 9 pm, East African time.

-Additional reporting by Correspondents and Agencies

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