//African football body Caf in disarray, audit reveals

African football body Caf in disarray, audit reveals

An audit into the state of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) has revealed an organisation in a state of disarray – both with regard to finances and governance.

Carried out by Pricewaterhouse Cooper, the audit describes Caf’s accounting as ‘unreliable and not trustworthy’ as it highlights transactions totalling in excess of $20m which either have ‘little or no supporting documentation’ or are considered ‘higher risk.’

One area it suggests further investigating is ‘the role played’ by Caf President Ahmad and his attaché Loic Gerand, among others, in the deal with French company Tactical Steel – some of whose financial dealings with Caf are described as ‘highly suspicious’.

Ahmad has already strenuously denied any wrongdoing with regard to this case.

The forensic audit – which was complicated by Caf’s tendency to make most of its payments in cash – also suggested considerable reforms were needed throughout Caf.

The organisation’s structure is described as being over-reliant on decisions made by the Executive Committee (ExCo), despite the latter meeting ‘once a quarter, resulting in delays in key decision-making and preventing managers of Caf departments from making timely business-critical decisions’.

In addition, a lack of clarity in Caf’s organisational structure has left departments ‘understaffed’ and existing staff both ‘overworked’ and ‘generally demotivated’.

The confidential audit, a copy of which has been seen by the BBC, was carried out as part of the unprecedented decision to send Fifa’s Secretary General to improve the governance of African football’s ruling body.

Fatma Samoura concluded her six-month role in early February, whereupon she presented her findings to leading figures in the Caf administration, who have said they will address the recommendations laid out by a joint Fifa/Caf taskforce.

These include, among others, major restructuring of Caf’s organisational hierarchy, introducing a term limit for both the President and ExCo members and the introduction of an ethics code.

Whether ExCo members, who determine their own salaries and bonuses according to an audit which suggests amending this, are prepared to approve fundamental changes when they meet on Friday is another matter.

“More than 30 years of an outdated and patriarchal management at Caf have resulted in important shortcomings at all levels of operations,” Caf said in a statement earlier this week.

“Caf will persevere … to ensure that we achieve the highest international standards.”

The damning audit highlights a raft of financial deals which require further investigation, with Caf President Ahmad, a 60-year-old from Madagascar, one of those under scrutiny.

Caf’s ExCo – which is effectively the organisation’s board – also has issues to address in light of the audit, which questions the manner in which they are compensated.

“Exco members – jointly or through a committee comprising a part of the Exco members (e.g. compensation committee) – propose and approve salaries, bonuses, end of term benefits, indemnities and allowances for the members of the ExCo, leading to a self-approval situation.”

Thirty-five payments made to the ExCo were reviewed yet not one had all the ‘required documentation to clearly establish the legitimacy of the payments.’

In 2016 – a period when Ahmad’s predecessor Issa Hayatou was in charge – $36,150 was paid to wives of ExCo members yet the latter could not provide documents re the ‘eligibility of spouses of ExCo members for such payments’.

“Caf has also booked several ad-hoc payments to ExCo members – e.g. buying gifts, offering donations, organising funeral etc. – for which no documents were provided for review,” the audit added.

Despite receiving indemnities of $450 per day when on duty and an annual bonus of at least $60,000, ExCo members are considered by the audit to hinder Caf’s daily working activities.

“The ExCo, which is held responsible to take all executive decisions, meets once a quarter, resulting in delays in key decision-making and preventing managers of Caf departments from making timely business-critical decisions.”

Governance

Despite the issues, Caf hosted a glittering awards ceremony in Egypt earlier this year
  • ‘Caf being a football governing body to promote and develop the game in Africa, it is important that Caf effectively manages its stakeholders – external and internal – effectively. Currently, there is little or no understanding about who the stakeholders are for the individual department’

With an unclear hierarchy and delays in decisions, Caf’s working environment appears far from perfect – with the result that staff are said to be ‘demotivated’.

“Staff expressed a lack of systematic communication, concerning key decisions, resulting in great amount of unclarity … and feeling of exclusion,” said the audit.

“Staff are unaware of the existing organisation structure… Job roles and responsibilities assigned to individual staff members are not properly defined and known.”

The list goes on – from a lack of leadership, committees meeting on an ‘ad-hoc basis without systematic planning’ through to the lack of a dedicated IT department.

In addition, staff attendance, overtime, vacations and medical absences are said to be neither monitored nor captured.

Meanwhile, large swathes of financial records are simply missing – with PwC estimating that it was unable to access around 20% of the data required for the period in review, which covered 2014-2019.

“Several sweeping governance and operational measures have already been implemented before and during the six-month partnership with Fifa,” Caf’s statement said.

“The ExCo has scheduled a meeting for 14 February to validate the 2020-21 Caf roadmap which will take into accounts (sic) all the recommendations.”

Given the roadmap suggests relieving the ExCo of management and administrative responsibilities, it promises to be quite some journey.