African football confederation president Ahmad Ahmad has been banned for five years by FIFA for financial misconduct.
The ban was announced during the Madagascan official’s campaign to be re-elected for four more years as the head of African soccer. His position also makes him a FIFA vice president.
The FIFA ethics committee found Ahmad had breached his duty of loyalty, offered gifts and other benefits, mismanaged funds and abused his position as the CAF President.
Ahmad, a former government official in Madagascar, was also fined 200,000 Swiss francs ($220,000).
Ahmad’s first four-year term was clouded with allegations of financial wrongdoing and misconduct at the Confederation of African Football headquarters in Cairo.
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 soccer.
“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 organization and financing of an Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca, his involvement in CAFs dealings with the sports equipment company Tactical Steel and other activities,” FIFA said in a 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 organization 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 the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
The CAF election is scheduled for March 12 in Rabat, Morocco.
Ahmad had been supported by FIFA leaders in Zurich when he was elected in 2017, ousting FIFA senior vice president Issa Hayatou after 29 years.