Cameroon: Issa Hayatou hits back at Cairo court decision

Former President of the Confederation of African Football Issa Hayatou has hit back at the decision of an economic  court…

Former President of the Confederation of African Football Issa Hayatou has hit back at the decision of an economic  court in the Egyptian capital Cairo to slam him with a fine of 27.9 million US Dollars in  relating to a complaint lodged by the Egyptian Competition Authority in early 2017.

Hayatou and his Secretary General when he was Caf boss were fined on Monday following the appointment by CAF of Lagardère Sports as the marketing and media agency for the commercialization, on behalf of CAF, of the main CAF competitions until 2028, with a minimum guarantee of one billion US Dollars (1 000 000 000$).

The Cameroonian is baffled by the decision of the court to single them out while clearing Caf of all liability given that they were acting with mandate from the Caf executive committee.

Below is a full statement of Mr. Hayatou following the court’s decision;

“The judgment” imposes on me as an individual, and on Mr. El Amrani, former CAF secretary general, a heavy fine of 500 million Egyptian pounds (about 27.9 million US Dollars) each, totaling a sanction of 1 billion Egyptian pounds (about 55.8 million US Dollars), while clearing CAF of all liability. This verdict is quite grotesque and has no justification in that it constitutes a flagrant disregard for the facts of the case and for the provisions of Egyptian and international competition law.

Mr. El Amrani and I have, at all times, and in particular in relation to the agreement with Lagardère Sports, acted ex-officio and as mandated by the CAF Executive Committee as evidenced by the successive deliberations and minutes. The decision of the Egyptian Economic Court to condemn us while clearing CAF is in flagrant violation of Article 25 of the Egyptian Competition Law, the individuals concerned and the entity represented being legally inseparable and jointly liable.

CAF and its Executive Committee renewed the agreement with Lagardère Sports in June 2015, by virtue of a memorandum of understanding. This agreement, unanimously approved by the members of the Committee, in full respect of the contractual and legal procedures, was obtained following negotiations initiated in September 2014 and involving a large number of representatives, including a CAF working group, CAF’s Strategic Marketing committee, an agency specialized in sports law, and the CAF administration, all in the framework of the mandate given by the Executive Committee.

In September 2016, one day prior to the signing of the long form agreement with Lagardère Sports, an Egyptian company called “Presentation” submitted to CAF a sheet of paper of one page – qualified as an “offer” – offering US $ 1.2 billion for the purchase of the commercial rights. It is worth indicating here that commercial rights were never put for sale but only for licensing.

The CAF Executive Committee unanimously rejected the said “offer” of Presentation, submitted more than a year after the signing of the CAF / Lagardère Sports memorandum of understanding, coming from an unknown entity, with a capital of less than one hundred thousand US dollars ($ 100,000) and without guarantees. At the time of the Committee’s decision, the current CAF President was a member, as well as seven (7) other persons who are still sitting on the said Committee.

Despite the undeniable fact that the agreement between CAF and Lagardère Sports is an agency agreement, the Egyptian Economic Court insisted on qualifying it as a sales agreement. This wrongful qualification goes against the provisions of the agreement and the documents submitted.

During my entire presidency at CAF, all the actions taken were in strict compliance with the Statutes and regulations and always in the interest of African football. The proof is the fact that the agreement signed with Lagardère Sports is still implemented by the current CAF Executive Committee and continues to provide positive results.

There is no doubt that, from the beginning, this case has been initiated with a clear political agenda and for the benefit of certain individuals, in an attempt to damage my reputation and that of the former Secretary General.

I will naturally appeal against this decision, while reserving the right to bring the case before any other competent international court, so as to put an end to this intolerable defamation and repeated attacks on my honor.