Former Liberia Football Association president Musa Bility, who tried to become FIFA president in 2015, has been banned from football for 10 years and fined just over €455,000 by the game’s global governing body.
A former FIFA committee member and current member of African football confederation CAF’s executive committee, Bility has been found guilty of misappropriating funds, receiving benefits and conflicts of interest by FIFA’s independent ethics committee.
In a statement, the ethics committee said the case related to the “11 against Ebola” campaign, a joint CAF/FIFA initiative to raise international awareness of the virus that killed thousands in West Africa between 2013 and 2016, and its investigation started in May 2018 after a “forensic audit” of the Liberian FA.
But eyebrows will be raised throughout African football that the sanction was announced a day after Bility filed an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the agreement between CAF and FIFA that will see the latter’s general secretary Fatma Samoura run CAF as “general delegate to Africa” from the start of August.
This follows a series of corruption scandals in African football which culminated when last month when CAF president Ahmad Ahmad was arrested in France as part of a wide-ranging fraud investigation.
Ahmad, who denies any wrongdoing, was eventually released but he is still under investigation by FIFA’s ethics committee, as well as the French authorities.
FIFA says its unprecedented decision to intervene at CAF is just a temporary measure to improve governance standards, but Bility has described it as a “hostile takeover” and he was the only member of the CAF’s ExCo to vote against the plan last week.
The 52-year-old, who ran Liberian football between 2010 and 2018, was one of Ahmad’s biggest allies when the Malagasy defeated long-standing CAF boss Issa Hayatou in 2017 but the pair soon fell out and Bility has become one of the current regime’s most vocal critics, although he will now have to do that from the sidelines.