Matters Arising As CAS Restores Ahmad As CAF President
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By Amaechi Agbo
Confusion and anxiety are the twin product of the effect of the ruling of the Court of Arbitration for Sports, CAS on Friday that restored Ahmad Ahmad as the President of the Confederation of Africa Football, CAF.
Madagascar’s Ahmad was dramatically restored as CAF president following a ruling by the Court of CAS that set aside, temporarily, FIFA’s five suspension from all football related activities.
Ahmad was banned by FIFA in November for five years after football’s world governing body found him to have breached several of its ethics codes.
The Malagasy – who will now resume his role as a FIFA vice-president – appealed his decision at CAS, which issued a preliminary ruling on Friday.
Ahmad is still ineligible to contest CAF’s presidential elections in March however, since the CAS decision came after both the CAF’s Governance Committee and FIFA’s Review Committee met earlier this week to discuss the eligibility of candidates.
CAS says it will hear Ahmad’s appeal in full on 2 March, with a decision to be issued before the CAF presidential elections on 12 March.
“The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has registered an appeal filed by Mr Ahmad Ahmad against the decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee issued on 19 November 2020 (grounds served on 2! January 2021).
“Such decision established that Mr Ahmad had committed several infractions of the FIFA Code of Ethics and imposed on him a ban from taking part in any kind of football related activity at national and international level for five years, as well as a fine of CHF 2007000.
“With his statement of appeal requesting the annulment of the FIFA decision, Mr Ahmad filed a request for provisional measures in order to be able to participate in the elections of the African Football Confederation (CAF) on 12 March 2021.
“In agreement with Mr Ahmad and FIFA, the CAS initiated an expedited procedure and has fixed the hearing date for 2 March 2021 (with a reserve day on 3 March 2021). The CAS Panel in charge of the matter intends to render a final award shortly after the hearing, i.e. before 12 March 2021. Due to a risk of irreparable harm for Mr Ahmad if the disciplinary sanction is maintained during the period prior to the CAF elections, the CAS Panel has upheld the request to temporarily stay the effects of the decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee until the day that the tinal CAS award is issued. However, the Panel has emphasized that such temporary decision does not prejudge in any way the decision it will take after analysing the merits of the case, once the written proceedings and the hearing have been completed, CAS said.
It however added a cavet that preclude Ahmad from contesting the for CAF presidential election “On the other hand, the arbitral Panel has rejected the request for provisional measures filed by Mr Ahmad sceking that an order be imposed preventing FIFA from taking any decision aimed at preventing Mr Ahmad from participating in, or aimed at making it difficult for him to participate in, the election for the CAF presidency scheduled for 12 March 2021,” CAS, sport’s highest legal body said.
This effective suspension of the FIFA ruling will be in place ‘until the day that the final Cas award is issued’.
Since he was banned when FIFA met on Tuesday and CAF on Thursday to vet presidential aspirants, Ahmad was deemed ineligible to run
THE Confusion AnTh Anxiety
CAF this week cleared four candidates to run for the elections on 12 March. They are Jacques Anouma (Ivory Coast), Patrice Motsepe (South Africa), Augustin Senghor (Senegal), Ahmed Yahya (Mauritania).
Ahmad will now need to overturn the decisions ruling him ineligible to run, since his appeal at CAS was not against the decision barring him from contesting the elections but against his FIFA ban.
Should CAS rule against him when its hearing takes place in early March, Ahmad – who proclaimed the backing of over 46 federations, out of 54, shortly his ban – will be ruled out of the race once and for all.
However, in the meantime, CAS decisions concerning every sporting disputes globally is final and cannot be appealed.
There are palpable fear in quarters that Ahmad’s return would overturn overnight, the political equation at CAF.
Camps and alignments are being readjusted as the coming days remain unpredictable.
Whether Ahmad would be eligible to recontest for his position in March is a subject of debate but what remains clear is that the political equation leading to the March 12, 2020 election will be altered drastically.