The president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Ahmad Ahmad, was released without charge in France on Friday, a day after being arrested for questioning, the Marseille public prosecutor said.
Prosecutor Xavier Tarabeux said Ahmad was arrested in Paris on Thursday and questioned as part of a probe into corruption, breach of trust and forgery.
Ahmad was in Paris for the FIFA Congress ahead of the start of the Women’s World Cup. His confederation’s marquee event, the African Cup of Nations, kicks off in Egypt on June 21.
The French investigation concerns CAF’s breach, shortly after its signature in December 2017, of a contract with Puma to supply equipment and clothes to 580 volunteers at the 2018 African Nations Championship, an event for national teams made up of African players with clubs on the continent.
CAF allegedly tore up the contract in favour of a better offer from a small French-based company which supplies Adidas gear, according to documents seen by AFP.
That company is based in La Seyne-sur-Mer, on the Mediterranean coast east of Marseille, a source close to the case said.
Puma “asked for compensation of $100,000, but CAF did not pay,” Amr Fahmy, a former CAF Secretary General, who is already involved in a separate investigation of Ahmad, told AFP.
In a statement on Thursday, FIFA said that it had “taken note of the alleged events concerning Mr Ahmad Ahmad, who is being questioned by the French authorities in relation to allegations related to his mandate while President of CAF.”
World football’s governing body said it had asked “the French authorities for any information” that might be of interest to its Ethics Commission.
Ahmad is already the subject of an investigation by the commission, opened after Fahmy submitted a dossier in March alledging “mismanagement”. Ahmad has denied the accusations.
FIFA’s statement on the arrest concluded: “FIFA is now clean from the scandals that tarnished its reputation and this same determination should prevail in governing bodies such as confederations. FIFA will be at the forefront of ensuring that this is enforced by everyone involved in football.”