FIFA probes African soccer leader, bars him from election

GENEVA (AP) — The interim president of the African soccer confederation is under investigation by FIFA and was barred Wednesday from an election to retain his seat on the governing body’s ruling council.

FIFA said Constant Omari failed an integrity and eligibility check because of “an ongoing formal investigation by the FIFA ethics committee.”

Details of the case were not given in a letter to the Confederation of African Football from a FIFA-appointed official overseeing integrity checks. The letter was reported by African media and confirmed by FIFA as authentic.

Omari is president of the Congo soccer federation and has been an African delegate on the FIFA Council since 2015. The position is paid $250,000 annually by FIFA.

Omari stepped up to lead CAF when previous president Ahmad Ahmad was banned by FIFA in November for financial wrongdoing. Ahmad, from Madagascar, and Omari were among three African officials barred as candidates for FIFA positions at CAF elections on March 12.

The FIFA governance and review committee carries out mandatory checks on candidates as part of reforms introduced in fallout from financial and election scandals in the past decade. Omari has reportedly been investigated for suspected financial wrongdoing linked to CAF commercial contracts while he was vice president under Ahmad’s leadership.

Turmoil at CAF in 2019 led to FIFA sending its secretary general, Fatma Samoura of Senegal, to run the organization for six months. A forensic audit detailed financial irregularities.

The 54-nation African soccer body is due to elect a president, some of its six other FIFA Council delegates and members of its own executive committee. The election meeting is scheduled to be held in Rabat, Morocco.

FIFA integrity checks were passed by four presidential candidates: Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast, Patrice Motsepe of South Africa, Augustin Senghor of Senegal and Ahmed Yaya of Mauritania.

Motsepe is a billionaire businessman and the brother-in-law of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The next CAF president will also become one of FIFA’s eight vice presidents.

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