The Confederation of African Football has descended heavily on the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) over reports that they have referred the president of the Caf, Issa Hayatou, to the country’s public prosecutor.
Initial reports stated that Issa Hayatou has been referred for prosecution in Egypt over the sale of its worldwide television rights for the next 12 years at a price said to be worth $1bn.
The ECA, announcing its referral of Caf for prosecution in the runup to the Africa Cup of Nations which starts in Gabon on 14 January, claimed Caf renewed its relationship with Lagardère without giving other broadcasters a fair opportunity to bid. It alleges Caf was “abusing its dominant position” by doing the deal, citing five separate sections of Egyptian competition law the ECA argues were breached.
But, in a statement, Caf said that the letter it had received from the ECA made no mention of a recommended prosecution for Hayatou, Caf president since 1988 and acting Fifa president from October 2015, when Sepp Blatter was suspended, to Gianni Infantino’s election in February 2016. Caf also insisted its executive committee had followed correct procedures when agreeing the new deal and not breached any competition laws.
Lagardère Sports also maintained that its 2017-28 contract with Caf was a fully legal renewal of its previous 2008-16 deal, and rejected the claims that it breaches Egyptian competition law. “Although Lagardère Sports is not the subject of the correspondence from the Egyptian competition authorities, any allegations that the agreement breaches local Egyptian competition laws are wholly unfounded and we have clear and categorical legal advice to that effect,” the statement said.
Hayatou, still Fifa’s senior vice-president on its ruling council and previously an executive committee member for more than 25 years from 1990, has not been accused by any legal authorities of involvement in the organisation’s recent corruption scandals. In 1995 he received cash from the rights company ISL, which paid millions of dollars in bribes to other senior Fifa officials.
In 2011, after that payment was reported, Hayatou was reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee, of which he was also a member, but Fifa took no action. Hayatou argued the money was for Caf’s 50th anniversary celebrations, not him personally.
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