Liberia: Musa Bility Faces 10-Yr Fifa Ban, But Promises to Fight Back
MONROVIA – The Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) has banned former Liberian Football Association president Musa Bility for 10 years and fined $500,000 for breaching its code of ethics.
The ban comes a day after Mr. Bility filed a case to the Court of Arbitration of Sport to make the recent agreement between CAF and FIFA to appoint FIFA Secretary General as General Delegate of Africa.
The world governing body of football in a communication to Bility who is also an executive committee member of CAF said the vocal ex-Liberian FA president has been found “guilty of having misappropriated Fifa funds, as well as having received benefits and found himself in situations of conflict of interest”.
According to Fifa, it has been investigating Bility since May of 2018 following a forensic audit of the LFA during his time as president of African oldest republic FA.
The misappropriation of Fifa funds relates to those granted under the global body’s “11 against Ebola” campaign and as part of its Financial Assistance Programme.
The campaign that saw top football stars promoting Ebola awareness measures was formed in November 2014 during the height of epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Fifa statement also said there were also “various payments made by the LFA to (and received from) entities owned by or connected to Mr. Bility and his family”.
Booked in Audit
It can be recalled that FIFA restricted funding to the Liberia Football Association (LFA) after audit showed that Liberia football officials mismanaged football development money intended for the country.
Independent auditors sent to Liberia by FIFA issued an adverse opinion after an audit of the LFA and concluded that its review clearly established that the spending of development funding within Liberia Football Association shows irregularities, which needed further action.
During their meeting on 8 March 2018, the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee decided to suspend funding to the Liberia Football Association until further notice “The decision was based on the findings of the review performed by Control Risks into the usage of development funds,” the LFA was told in a letter from Zurich.
“In light of the decision, Liberia Football Association will not receive funding until there has been an evaluation of the remedial actions. AII expenditures of FIFA funds already received can only be spent by written consent of the FIFA administration,” the communication added.
On Tuesday, July 23, 2019 Bility filed a case against FIFA and CAF at the Court of the Arbitration for Sport on its decision to appoint FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura to work with CAF as General delegate to Africa which will start on August 1, 2019.
At a Caf ExCo meeting in Cairo last week, Bility was the sole member to oppose the plan, arguing that it contravened both Fifa and Caf regulations.
He is unhappy with what he calls the ‘co-operation agreement’ between Caf and Fifa and wants it to be made “null and void with immediate effect”.
Bility Responds to Fifa Ban
Meanwhile, Bility has said that he is considering appealing against the sanction on him by Fifa.
He said in his official response: “I have requested my legal team to delve into this matter expeditiously with a view to challenge this decision by the ethics committee through all available channels.”
“Let me reiterate my commitment to exonerating myself of these spurious accusations,” he added in his response to the decision taken against him.
Tough-taking Bility said he has not received a communication from FIFA regarding his suspension. According to him, Fifa wants to silence his critical voice. He noted that he would not be deterred or intimidated.
He accused Fifa of selective judgment where people who have committed worst offenses are not banned.
It is Bility second time been hit by suspension.
Bility issued a statement immediately after the international media broke the news of his ban in a two-page communication.
Excerpt of Bility’s Response
Today, Wednesday 24th July 2019 I have been informed by the FIFA Ethics Committee of its decision to ban me from all football activities for a period of 10 years plus a hefty fine of CHF 500,000 for alleged misappropriation of funds during my tenure as the President of the Liberia FA.”
I have equally requested my legal team to delve into this matter expeditiously with a view to challenging this decision by the Ethics committee through all available channels.”
Many (including me) are bewildered by the convergence of the two events, coming so soon against the backdrop of my personal campaign and vocal opposition to some of these proposals and decisions.
We all continue to be confounded by the mechanics of the Ethics committee and its weaponization.
In the recent past we have witnessed the disposal of Ethics violations in the most sinisterly partial manner.
For example, from the same trove of evidence procured during the BIN HAMMAN investigation, some of those found in breach were immediately sanctioned, but surprisingly, others who are clearly culpable and whose matters are before the same Ethics committee, and based on the exact same evidence, remain unscathed and unimpeded to rise to top football offices”.
Obviously, it is very important that FIFA install its SG Fatma Samoura at the helm of CAF and anyone seen to be at cross-purposes with this intention, will be struck down with extreme prejudice.
Most of you know that the name of my country LIBERIA means home of freed slaves. Our ancestors came back with horror stories about their time in captivity, the most ominous being that any slave who appeared to have “outgrown his breeches” or “seemed too clever” would be summarily neutered.
More recently in the DR Congo, when it seemed to some Western powers that Patrice Lumumba would be at cross-purposes with their interests, they arranged for his torture and assassination. This is the exact same scene being replayed here, in 2019 and where the puppetmaster works his marionettes from the glass house in Zurich.
Why is it so important for FIFA to impose Fatma Samoura at the helm of CAF? Well, FIFA needs an automatic weapon loaded with votes that it can quickly and easily deploy.
CAF remains the confederation with the most number of such votes that can easily be herded in the direction FIFA wants.
Some of the decisions where such votes are needed are (for example) the recent attempt by FIFA to create new global competitions (despite opposition from the influential UEFA caucus) and to sell them plus FIFA historical archives to shadowy consortiums.
The plan appears to be, “if we cannot reason with them, we will out-vote them at the FIFA Congress”… In the process and in exchange for these votes, FIFA is quite happy to sweep credible accusations of theft and money-laundering, sexual harassment and open breach of CAF Statutes by the CAF leadership under the carpet.
I have every intention to continue this fight for the soul of African football, there is now a wonderful (albeit silent) critical mass of African football Association Presidents who feel the exact same why.
Currently, the air of intimidation and vindictiveness inside CAF is overwhelming, and its stench sticks onto everyone and everything.
Let me reiterate my commitment to exonerating myself off of these spurious accusations and continuing with the legal exercise that I have commenced at CAS to its logical conclusion.