Africa: President Omari Accepts CAF Legacy and Expresses Confidence in the Institution’s Future

CAF 42nd Ordinary General Assembly was held by videoconference on Friday 11 December 2020. During the event organized online due to the persistence of COVID-19, CAF interim President Constant Omari reviewed the progress made by the African Football Confederation since 2017.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino opened the 42nd Ordinary session of CAF General Assembly. In his ten minutes speech, Infantino reiterated the relationship between CAF and FIFA: “We are FIFA. We, that is each of you and I, together with the other confederations. And we will continue to work together to make FIFA a stronger and better institution.” He added that what President Ahmad is going through now makes him personally “sad”.

Constant Omari gave an opening speech which was intended to be “completely frank” on the exceptional circumstances CAF is facing. “Never has our Confederation, throughout its 64 years of existence, been faced with such a situation. Never has it been subjected to so many constraints, and especially never has it known such a need for vigilance and responsibility. I would like to speak to you in total frankness and ask you today to share with me and with the members of the Executive Committee, this general responsibility of protecting the major interests of our Confederation.”

The General Assembly, initially scheduled for April 2020 and postponed due to the global health crisis, was held in an unprecedented hybrid format. Speaking to the members of the Executive Committee and of the administrative body of CAF in person, as well as the presidents and representatives of the Member Associations in videoconference, President Omari returned to the history of the Confederation “marked by major facts” which “make us proud to belong to it.”

For Omari CAF remains a strong institution, and the turbulence it is currently going through does not call into question the work accomplished so far. “Facing so many difficulties today should not scare us or make us doubt. Our capabilities are great. Our will must be stronger than ever.”

It was a good opportunity to make an evaluation of the last three years. “Let us be proud of our achievements, results, plans and our strategy for the future. Our Confederation and its Central Administration are very young today, and this is a sign that does not deceive,” he declared, before highlighting some innovations introduced under the presidency of Ahmad Ahmad and which redefined CAF and its positioning as an institution now marked with the seal of African diversity.

“No one can deny that since March 2017, under the chairmanship of Mr. Ahmad, so much has changed for the better, the functioning of our internal organs and structures, the overhaul of our zonal management systems, the strengthening of our statutes , the substantial increase in the subsidies allocated to National associations, the creation of an ethics and good governance structure, the cleaning up of our accounts, a great battery of recruiting new skills at CAF by diversifying their origins,” underlined Mr. Omari.

The General Assembly respected the usual process, in particular the approval of the minutes of the Extraordinary General Assembly held on 18 July 2019 in Cairo, on the eve of the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, Egypt 2019.

The report presented by the Acting Secretary General, Abdelmounaim Bah, also highlighted the development activities and programs carried out in favor of women’s football, youth football, referees, and clubs in recent years. The 2019 Africa Cup of Nation, inaugural edition organized in the format of 24 teams, was brilliantly presented, with results which allowed CAF to record a 25% increase in its commercial income. Notwithstanding these promising figures, the Finance Committee chaired by Fouzi Lekjaa called for more rigor in the management of resources.

The Assembly also followed with great interest the balance sheet presentation of the audited accounts, and the report of the Audit and Compliance Committee, before approving voting on the approval of the audited annual accounts and the 2020-2021 budget.

Regarding the 2021 elections, the final list of eligible candidates will be communicated no later than 11 January 2021 in accordance with CAF statutes. Omari recalled “We are used to these elections, they always generate, and that’s normal, tensions, highlights and even rivalries. There is nothing we can do about it, it is characteristic of an important election, but this time I must recommend the serenity, appeasement, and a good climate of conduct of these voting operations. Because the world will look us deep in the eyes, judge and evaluate us. Our own African opinion will be uncompromising on transparency, good organization and of course acceptance of the result.”