FIFA Council member Tarek Bouchamaoui has declared his intention to contest the presidency of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) with incumbent president Ahmad Ahmad when the organization holds its elections next year.
Bouchamaoui, who sits on the CAF Executive Committee, announced his Presidential run in a letter to the Tunisian Football Federation (TFF).
The 54-year-old is the first African football official to officially confirm his candidacy for Africa’s top football post at beleagured CAF, which is set to hold its Presidential election in Rabat on March 12. More are expected to declare their ambitions in the coming months.
Bouchamaoui is also a member of the executive committee of the CAF and was head of CAF’s referees’ committee from 2011 to 2013. He has business interest in oil and textiles and was considered a close ally of former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, whose overthrow in 2011 sparked the Arab Spring protests.
The Tunisian football administrator was also named in connection with tax evasion schemes organised by HSBC’s private bank in Switzerland, but was not charged with any offences.
“I have the honour to confirm my decision to run for the Presidency of the CAF and to request your support and support for my candidacy to guarantee it every chance of success,” he wrote in the letter to the TFF.
Current CAF president, Madagascar’s Ahmad Ahmad claimed earlier this year that he had not decided whether to run for a second term.
His four-year stint at the helm of the CAF has been littered with controversy, including allegations of corruption and sexual misconduct.
The issues at the CAF prompted FIFA to effectively take over the running of the continental body last July, with Fatma Samoura installed as general delegate for Africa. Samoura held the role for six months but next to no information on what FIFA uncovered has been released.
An independent audit of CAF accounts carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers earlier this year yielded a 55-page report which described the body’s records as “unreliable and not trustworthy”, although the CAF claimed the report contained “unfounded allegations”.
The report said that FIFA had remitted a total of $51 million to the African governing body from 2015 to 2018 and that since then, about $24 million of that amount had been disbursed by African soccer officials. In reviewing 40 payments totaling $10 million, auditors found that just five of the payments, adding up to $1.6 million, had sufficient documentation to confirm what the money would be spent on. The rest lacked information that in some cases made it impossible to identify the beneficiaries of the funds.