GENEVA (AP) — Banned by FIFA for financial wrongdoing, Ahmad Ahmad was reinstated as head of African soccer on Friday during a presidential election campaign pending his urgent appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
CAS said it granted Ahmad an interim ruling to freeze his five-year ban by FIFA ahead of an appeal hearing on March 2. A verdict is promised before the Confederation of African Football elections on March 12.
The court said there was a “risk of irreparable harm for Mr Ahmad” if he remained banned from leading the Cairo-based African soccer body while awaiting an appeal during the election campaign.
CAS said though its judges ruled in Ahmad’s favor, they “emphasized that such temporary decision does not prejudge in any way the decision it will take after analysing the merits of the case.”
Still, it was unclear whether Ahmad — a former minister in Madagascar’s government — can be recognized as a candidate in the weeks ahead.
Ahmad was barred this week from the election in a mandatory review by a FIFA review panel of each would-be candidate’s integrity and eligibility.
In a second decision on Friday, CAS rejected the soccer official’s request for a separate interim ruling and, instead, upheld FIFA’s right to make decisions about the African elections that were “aimed at preventing Mr Ahmad from participating.”
Ahmad was banned in November when FIFA ethics judges found he “breached his duty of loyalty, offered gifts and other benefits, mismanaged funds, and abused his position as the CAF president.”
He was elected in 2017 and was seeking a second four-year term leading African soccer as a FIFA vice president.
FIFA integrity checks were passed this week by four presidential candidates: Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast, Patrice Motsepe of South Africa, Augustin Senghor of Senegal, and Ahmed Yaya of Mauritania.
Motsepe is a billionaire businessman and the brother-in-law of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The 54 CAF member federations are due to have their March 12 election meeting in Rabat, Morocco.