OPEN LETTER TO FIFA PRESIDENT INFANTINO
Dear Gianni Infantino
It has come to my attention that FIFA recently handed former Zambian FA President Kalusha Bwalya a two year banning order for allegedly violating the FIFA Code of Ethics by accepting what they claim were illegal payments totalling US$80 000 from disgraced former Asian Football Confederation boss Bin Hammam.
The sentence was like a bolt from the blue. And I remember reasoning that if a legendary former African Footballer of the Year with the stature of Bwalya could be hammered like that, then surely we should certainly expect a complete cleanup in our game.
Sadly there has been not just a complete silence since then, but a kind of conspiracy one could describe as akin to Animal Farm, where other animals are considered more powerful than others or, was Kalusha a scapegoat and a fall guy in the greater scheme of things?
I ask this question because I believe the current President of the Confederation of African Football – Ahmad Ahmad – also received US$10 000 from the generous Bin Hammam as did 30 other African FA Presidents during his failed campaign to unseat Sepp Blatter.
Why impose selective justice?
African FA Presidents serving on the FIFA executive committee at the time – Cameroon, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire – were allegedly paid US$400 000 each while US$50 000 was said to have been paid to the Namibian Football Association to assist with “Second Division leagues structures that had been affected by financial challenges”.
The Swaziland Football Association allegedly requested a $30 000 payment from Bin Hammam and it was paid while Seedy Kinteh, President of the Gambia Football Association, was allegedly paid $10 000 including an additional $50 000 for a brand new car paid through bin Hammam’s daughter’s account.
The Qatari strongman also paid Manuel Dende, the Sao Tome and Principe FA boss US$50 000, after the latter had initially requested US$232 000. Izetta Wesley, the former Liberian Football Association leader, was paid US$10 000.
The Somali Football Federation was allegedly paid US$100 000 through Bin Hammam daughter’s account, CECAFA were paid US$200 000 three days after the World Cup bids had been decided to fund the 2010 CECAFA Cup tournament.
And so the list goes on about African FA Presidents that handsomely benefitted from the benevolence of the infamous Bin Hammam, yet the question remains as to why only Bwalya has become the ONLY individual that has been prosecuted?
If Bwalya has been punished for his alleged indiscretion and inability to account for how he spent the US$80 000 he received from Bin Hammam, then why has Ahmad Ahmad and the others who have been unable to satisfactory explain how they spent the loot they received from the Qatari, escape sanctions?
By so saying, and by implication I’m not in any way condoning what Bwalya did, if he has indeed accepted US$80 000 which they claim was illegal and contravened certain rules contained in the FIFA Ethics, and they thus found him guilty of financial malfeasance, then he certainly deserves to be punished.
My concern however, is how do we believe in Ahmad and indeed accept his crusade to rid football of corruption in this new era, when serious question marks hang over his acceptance of questionable money allegedly coming from a slush fund created to bribe people to vote for Bin Hammam?
Or perhaps I’m jumping the gun too soon and FIFA is indeed investigating all these other individuals that have been generously paid from the Bin Hammam slush fund? In that case, I hope to be updated about whether investigations are ongoing in the cases of these other individuals.