The decision by Fifa on Monday to ban Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Ahmad Ahmad for five years has caught FAM off-guard, having endorsed him for a second term.
The world football governing body has banned the Malagasy for gross financial misconduct after its ethics committee established that he had “breached his duty of loyalty, offered gifts and other benefits, mismanaged funds and abused his position”.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) was one of the 46 out of 54 member associations that endorsed Ahmad ahead of the March 12 elections.
Reacting to the ban, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu on Monday said: “It’s a very sad development. It doesn’t augur well for the image of African football.
“Such incidences are detrimental to the development of football on the continent, but we’ll have to go by the rules.”
Asked on the way forward regarding the impending elections, he said: “We will go back to the drawing board. Everyone was in favour of continuity, that is why we endorsed Ahmad.
“We now have to hear from the other aspirants on what plans they have in store for African football. We only knew about Ahmad since we were working closely with him.”
On the reasons for rallying their support behind Ahmad, Nyamilandu last month said: “He deserves a second term, having done a fantastic job to restructure the operations of CAF and significantly improve its finances.”
Following the development, the number of candidates contesting for the CAF presidency has reduced to four and the remaining aspirants are Jacques Anouma (Ivory Coast), Patrice Motsepe (South Africa), Augustin Senghor (Senegal) and Ahmed Yahya (Mauritania).
According to a statement from Fifa, Ahmad, who is also Fifa vice-president by virtue of being CAF president, was also fined 200 000 Swiss francs (about $220 000).
His first four-year term was clouded with allegations of financial wrongdoing and misconduct.
He was detained by French authorities in Paris on the eve of the Women’s World Cup for questioning about a CAF equipment deal with a company that appeared to have little connection with soccer.
“The investigation into Mr. Ahmad’s conduct in his position as CAF president during the period from 2017 to 2019 concerned various CAF-related governance issues, including the organization and financing of an Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca, his involvement in CAF’s dealings with the sports equipment company Tactical Steel and other activities,” Fifa said in a statement.
An audit of CAF finances pointed to irregularities under Ahmad’s leadership. The report was ordered by Fifa which effectively took over running the organisation for six months.
Ahmad had been supported by Fifa leaders in Zurich when he was elected in 2017, ousting Fifa senior vice-president Issa Hayatou after 29 years.