Egypt’s High Administrative Court has ruled that the Egyptian Football Association’s board be dissolved following administrative irregularities concerning two of its members.
The court stated that prior to the EFA’s elections, Sahar and bother Hazem Al-Hawari were not eligible to run, a decision that the EFA’s administration did not adhere to, allowing both to run as candidates. The two were barred from the elections after previous court orders were passed against them in other cases.
The court added that elections were thus invalid and did not reflect the will of the general assembly. Therefore, the EFA’s executive manager Tharwat Swelem will remain charge d’affaires until a temporary council is assigned or new elections take place. The lawsuit against the election results was launched by two candidates, Omar Haridi and Magda Al-Helbawi. Both had lost in the elections.
The court’s order to dissolve the board came as most of its members are currently in the Ethiopian capital for African Federation (CAF) meetings and elections.
It has been busy problematic two weeks for the EFA with issues boiling to the surface involving Zamalek’s threat to withdraw from the league because of poor refereeing, a close election race in Africa and now the court verdict.
It wasn’t the first time the court has issued such a ruling in the same case. It occurred twice before and every time the EFA appeals for the order to be put on hold. Elections were held on 30 August. This week’s court order means a delay in announcing the result of those elections.
Minister of Youth and Sports Khaled Abdel-Aziz is required by law to implement the order in his government capacity and dissolve the EFA board. The minister is attending an international anti-doping conference in Lausanne, Switzerland.
According to Swelem, the EFA has taken all legal action to again appeal the decision. The court order is expected to be considered governmental interference especially by world football’s governing body FIFA. The EFA elections were held according to FIFA regulations of which the EFA is a member. The elections were also held under the supervision of two FIFA members who were in Egypt as observers on the day of the elections, and approved its validity.
On the same day of the Egyptian court ruling, the CAF issued a statement regarding its dispute with the Egyptian Competition Authority. The statement came out while the EFA delegation was in Addis Ababa to take part in congress meetings and support its president Hani Abu Rida who is running for FIFA Council membership from Africa. Abu Rida has been representing CAF at the FIFA Council, formerly known as the Executive Committee, for the past eight years.
But the recent dispute between CAF, an Egyptian marketing company and the Egyptian Competition Authority has marred the relationship between the EFA and CAF and could result in the transfer of CAF headquarters from Cairo, especially after CAF President Eissa Hayatou was summoned by the Egyptian prosecution for an investigation.
CAF said it was compelled to issue a statement “in the face of a variety of unsubstantiated charges and allegations presented in the media by the Egyptian Competition Authority which, it is now understood, has led to the Public Prosecutor for Financial and Commercial Affairs referring CAF, its president and secretary-general to the Egyptian Economic Court on the basis of the same unsubstantiated charges and allegations.
“CAF renewed the appointment of Lagarder Sports as marketing and media agency for the main regional football competitions in Africa up to 2028 following an extensive period of negotiations. A legally binding agreement was signed by the parties in June 2015 and was unanimously approved by the CAF Executive Committee.
“In commercial terms, the deal represented an enormous increase in the revenues guaranteed to CAF for its marketing and media rights, which secures significant and guaranteed funds for the benefit of African football over the next 12 years. Further, with an unrivalled track record in delivering African football for over 22 years, Lagarder Sports is also an agency that can deliver and execute CAF’s vast programme of events including the Africa Cup of Nations, the African Nations Championship and the African Champions League, such is the scale and complexity of the events across the whole of the African continent.
“Any suggestion whatsoever of impropriety in relation to the commercial agreement is utterly without foundation and completely and vehemently denied. CAF will vigorously defend its position, its rights and reputation using all legal means available under international law. The charges presented in the media by the Egyptian Competition Authority and the public prosecutor, through appearances on talk shows and issuance of press releases, contradict the clearly established aforementioned facts. It is suggested that a company called Presentation Advertising Agency submitted a superior offer to CAF at the time of the negotiations. For the avoidance of any doubt, the offer submitted by Presentation was submitted in September 2016, 15 months after the signature of the contract; and materially and substantially fell short of the financial, technical, execution and other requirements commonly expected and required for deals of this nature in the sports media industry.
“Most significantly and in addition to the previous points, Presentation’s belated offer was to acquire outright the marketing and media rights held by CAF, which were never for sale and the very holding of such agency rights by Presentation would be in violation of its own articles of association. As has been clearly established by the Egyptian Competition Authority in the past in one of its own public reports, the agreement between CAF and Lagarder Sports is an agency agreement not a sale agreement, but the ECA’s latest media campaign presents allegations on the basis of the agreement being a sale agreement.
“In the ordinary course of any legal dispute under international norms, CAF would be given the opportunity to present its case to relevant authorities and have the right to be heard in accordance with due process. To date, the Egyptian Competition Authority and the public prosecutor, in quite remarkable and unprecedented fashion for regulatory bodies, have attempted to conduct a trial by media offering CAF no right of defence and serving it with no formal charges other than through the media. Indeed, the public prosecutor has referred its fait accompli case to the Egyptian Economic Court following only a few days of investigations without any communication or engagement whatsoever with CAF.
“Given the facts, it is becoming increasingly clear that this is a form of interference with general commercial contract negotiations in
Egypt under the veil of an unfounded local competition law infringement, which sets a deeply worrying precedent not just for football in Egypt, but for business in Egypt and for sport and business in Africa. The timing of the ECA’s media campaign also underlines its attempt to disrupt and undermine CAF at the time of its presidential elections.
To be absolutely clear, CAF categorically asserts that all claims against it are groundless and without merit, and will vigorously contest them. CAF is a non-profit organisation that aims only to achieve football development across the continent, while using the power of football to contribute to youth empowerment while raising social awareness of key causes. CAF celebrates Africa through football.”