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CAF Honorary President Hayatou wins appeal at CAS over year ban

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) has lifted a year-long ban from football-related activities imposed on former Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Issa Hayatou.

FIFA had last year slapped  Hayatou, also its former vice president, with the ban, effective August 3, 2021, claiming he’d the federation’s code of ethics.

FIFA’s investigations centered on $1 billion deal Hayatou signed with French company, Lagardere Sport for the commercialization of media and marketing rights of CFA-organised competitions while he served as president of the continental football body.

The 12-year deal which was signed in 2015 but went into effect in 2017 is the biggest deal in African soccer history, but FIFA’s adjudicatory chamber ruled that it was anti-competitive and detrimental to causing significant damage to CAF.

But CAS, in a ruling following an appeal by Hayatou nullified the decision by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee saying Hayatou did not violate any provisions of the Code of Ethics.

The Lausanne-based sport tribunal ruled that “the decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee of June 17, 2021 is set aside.”

Besides, the court ruled that FIFA should contribute to Hayatou’s legal fees to the tune of $5,403 (about Sh550,000).

Hayatou, 75, served as CAF president for three decades. While as CAF boss, and Fifa vice president for 25 years, from 1992 to 2017 time during which he also served as FIFA acting president for four months, from October 2015 to February 2016.

Then FIFA president, Sepp Blatter had been banned from all football-related activities in 2015 as a part of the FIFA corruption investigation.

With the ban now lifted, Hayatou who was absent at the opening ceremony of the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, (AFCON) in his homeland, Cameroon can now freely take part in the closing ceremony and final at the 60,000 seater Olembe Stadium in Yaounde on Sunday.

Hayatou who is today CAF’s honorary president, in 2014 played a key role in the award of the hosting rights of the 2019 tournament to Cameroon. CAF later moved the tournament from his home country to Egypt citing infrastructural delays by Cameroon. The central African country was then handed the 2021 tournament, which was delayed by 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A prince of Garoua, one of the host cities of the delayed AFCON 2021, Hayatou has been credited with raising the profile of African football during his nearly three decades tenure as CAF president.