One year Suspension for Former CAF interim president From football

One year Suspension for Former CAF interim president From Football

Abuja  Nigeria

DR Congo’s former interim Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Constant Omari has been suspended from football for one-year by Fifa for breaking its ethics code.

The former Fifa Council member was adjudged to have received benefits from Lagardere during negotiations between the French media company and Caf – which resulted in “significant financial damage” to the latter.

Caf’s one-time vice-president is said to have received just over 66,000 Euros (US$80,000), which football’s world governing body has instructed he pay as a fine as part of his sanction.

Omari, who recently left his role as DR Congo’s football federation president after a 16-year reign, entered into a plea bargain arrangement with Fifa.

“A formal investigation against Mr Omari was opened on 7 January 2021,” said Fifa in a statement.

“[It] concerned certain benefits accepted and received from Lagardere Sports (for a total amount of EUR 66,444), in relation to the negotiations that he conducted for an agreement between Caf and Lagardere Sports in connection with the commercialisation of certain TV rights licenced to the LC2 company and to the collection of the latter’s outstanding debt.

“The negotiations, which were led by Mr Omari on behalf of Caf, resulted in contractual provisions that were particularly detrimental to Caf, causing significant financial damage to the confederation.”

“In this respect, the receipt of benefits created a conflict of interests that detracted from Mr Omari’s ability to perform his duties to Caf with integrity and in an independent and purposeful manner.”

Costly amendment

In early 2019, Omari oversaw an amendment to the billion-dollar deal that Caf had made with Lagardere Sports in 2015.

Under this amendment, Caf agreed to pay Lagardere $6.7m for around $20m of debt, related to outstanding TV rights payments, owed by Beninois sports agency LC2 GROUP to the French company.

In January, Omari was barred from running for re-election to the Fifa Council, on which he had sat since 2015, after he failed an integrity check owing to Fifa’s ongoing investigation into the Lagardere amendment.

This decision was confirmed in March when sport’s highest legal body, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, rejected his appeal against his exclusion.

Omari was stand-in Caf president at the time, after former president Ahmad of Madagascar had been banned himself by Fifa for violating the ethics code.

Ahmad – who is serving a two-year ban after appealing his original sentence – was also being investigated over his role in the Lagardere affair.

“The decision communicated today refers to Mr Omari,” a Fifa spokesperson told BBC Sport Africa.

“Please note that as a general policy, the Ethics Committee does not comment on potential ongoing proceedings nor on whether or not investigations are underway into alleged cases.

“As usual, any information the Ethics Committee may like to share will be communicated accordingly upon their indications.”

The Congolese declined to speak the BBC, which has also sought comment from Lagardere Sports, which rebranded itself as Sportfive last year.

Omari’s ban formally started on 18 June.

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