The ruling, when it finally came, could not have been clearer.
One of the six regional football bodies incurred discriminatory behaviors against a board of directors by hindering their chances of obtaining a seat on its Executive Committee and a leadership position in the governing body of world football, FIFA.
Directive, Mariyam Mohamed, also convinced the judges of the highest court in sport that an influential Kuwaiti sheikh had actively interfered in the elections organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in 2019 to achieve the result he desired. .
The final ruling, which has not been published, was obtained by The New York Times. In it, a panel of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland concluded that the lack of action by Asian soccer officials for several months amounted to a “denial of justice” for Mohamed. However, two months after the announcement of the decision, the impact of what appears on paper to be a powerful denunciation of ethical flaws and a lack of interest in women’s rights has been practically nil.
Nothing has happened.
The rigged elections will not be repeated. The men who offered Mohamed incentives to leave the race have not been sanctioned. And soccer leaders have not taken action.
FIFA said by email that it had no comment on the matter, although in the wake of the verdict it insisted that it would follow up on the court’s findings with soccer officials in Asia. The Asian soccer governing body also declined to comment, saying its leaders had nothing to add to a January statement in which they had promised the organization will review the findings.
For Mohamed, the silence has been infuriating.
“For them it is just a game, the denial of justice, the same process I was in,” he said during a telephone interview.. “They are waiting for time to pass and they hope that I will tire. Now the verdict has been rendered and it is simply very sad. I don’t know where else to go “.
Mohamed, who submitted his complaints to the Asian federation’s disciplinary department in May 2019, said the months after his victory have felt as if history was repeating itself. At first, he celebrated the triumph, but has come to understand that it could turn into a Pyrrhic victory.
She has not been contacted by AFC officials, she said. Nor have FIFA’s ethics researchers communicated, even though the organization’s rules state that gender discrimination is prohibited “and will be punishable by suspension or expulsion.”
The case and its aftermath have underscored how power works in global sports. It shows how a royal from the Persian Gulf linked to other corruption cases has been able to exercise significant control over one of the largest governing bodies in football, despite the fact that he does not have an official position to implicate him in its affairs . Furthermore, it shows how a delaying tactic can be its own kind of injustice.
Mohamed’s case stemmed from FIFA’s response to its own discrimination issues: to address the lack of women on its council, the organization designated specific seats for women since 2013; It started with one voting member that year and now a minimum of one from each of FIFA’s six regional confederations.
Mohamed, a former soccer player and coach from the Maldives, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, was hoping to win the AFC spot in a vote in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in April 2019. It didn’t take long for her to figure out that the powerful of the Asian soccer had already decided the outcome of the election.
At a CAS hearing in July, the AFC was barely able to put together a defense. His lawyers did not provide witnesses to challenge Mohamed’s testimony that one of the top officials of the confederation and the president of the Qatar football federation had been present in a luxury hotel suite when Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah told Mohamed that he had decided that his preferred candidate, Mahfuza Akhter Kiron from Bangladesh, would be chosen as the AFC’s women’s representative to the FIFA Council.
Mohamed was told that he must resign his candidacy within 24 hours. She later claimed, in testimony that was not denied by the AFC, that Sheikh Ahmad tried to appease her by mentioning that he was so influential in international football circles that he could get her “any other position he wanted in the AFC or the FIFA ”in exchange for withdrawing from the contest.
In a statement sent to the Times after this article was published, Sheikh Ahmad (who declined several previous requests for comment) denied “any attempt to influence” the 2019 elections and appeared to blame the AFC and his lawyers for not call him as a witness in the CAS.
However, at the time he met with Mohamed, Sheikh Ahmad had no official position in football, having resigned his position on the FIFA Council in 2017 following indictments in a US federal court. that he had bribed Asian managers. However, Mohamed’s decision to take his case to court provided a rare public look at Sheikh Ahmad’s leadership position in global sports through his position as president of the Asia Olympic Council, an organization created by his father in 1982.
For example, at a 2013 meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Sheikh Ahmad’s endorsement helped Thomas Bach secure the IOC presidency and also deliver the Summer Olympics to Tokyo in 2020. After being indicted in A non-sports-related forgery case in 2018 has been “self-suspended” from two prominent Olympic charges. However, your opinion still carries weight.
Before the 2019 AFC elections, his legal problems did not appear to be a relevant topic. A list of his favorite candidates was distributed to AFC voters on the eve of the elections and, aware of the conversations with Mohamed and Sheikh Ahmad’s preference for a different candidate, the leaders of various federations pressured Mohamed to resign. to the candidacy, she said.
He refused to withdraw his candidacy, but lost the vote anyway, 31 to 15. However, all the candidates on Sheikh Ahmed’s list were chosen for the post on the AFC Executive Committee or, in the case of Kirón. , as representative of the confederation before FIFA.
After analyzing the evidence presented by Mohamed and his lawyers, the CAS panel made it clear in the summary of its decision that it agreed with their version of events. The panel confirmed that the 2019 elections had broken FIFA and AFC rules on gender discrimination. It concluded that Sheikh Ahmad had tried to influence the outcome and that the AFC had denied Mohamed justice by failing to rule on his complaint. However, he also said that by not withdrawing his candidacy, Mohamed ensured that the sheikh’s efforts to influence the election in his case were not effective.
However, the court said it did not have the power to order that the fraudulent elections be annulled or to sanction any of the individuals accused of interfering in them. Any subsequent decision or action was in the hands of FIFA and the AFC, the court noted.
Due to the rules that govern the court, the panel’s full findings have been airtight since the verdict was announced on January 25.
“If nothing happens, it is a disgrace to FIFA, the AFC and indirectly undermines the authority of CAS,” said Miguel Poiares Maduro, former chairman of the FIFA Governance Committee who provided evidence in the Mohamed case. “This award and those that follow tell us that the CAS has exposed corruption at the highest level of elections in football and at the same time shows us that it cannot do anything about it.”
What does this tell us about the entire structure of justice in sports? It is an accusation ”.
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