Former Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Issa Hayatou and secretary general Hicham El Amrani have been fined $55m by the Egyptian Economic Court (EEC) for violating local anti-monopoly rules in a multi-million dollar broadcasting deal.
The EEC ruled on Monday that Hayatou and Amrani violated the country’s competition law by granting exclusive broadcasting rights to a single company, claiming it was done without a tender.
Hayatou and El-Amrani faced charges of violating Egypt’s competition law in selling exclusive broadcast and sponsoring rights to French company Lagardère Sports.
After two years of trial the court finally ruled that the two former leaders of Africa’s football governing body were guilty of violating the anti-competition rules which led to the huge fines.
The Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) started to investigate the Lagardere deal in June 2016, prior to asserting – in January 2017 – that Caf had engaged in monopolistic practices that infringed local laws.
The deal gives Lagardere rights to a variety of African football competitions, including the flagship Africa Cup of Nations, from 2017 until 2028.
With Caf based in Cairo, Egyptian authorities maintain it is governed by local laws and the court is ruled on the matter on Monday in Cairo.
Hayatou and Amrani firmly rejected the accusations they committed any wrongdoing when signing a multi-million dollar deal with sports agency Lagardere in June 2015.
Dr. Mona El-Jarf, head of the Competition Protection and Prohibition of Monopolistic Practices Authority of Egypt, accused Hayatou and El Amrani of violating article 8 of paragraphs (a), (b) and (d) of Law 5 of the protecting competition and abuse of the exploitation rights.
This is in regards to the broadcast rights of the Africa Cup of Nations which was awarded to French company Lagardere Sport for 12 years from between 2017 and 2028 without offering it to other companies wishing to bid.
The ECA referred the case to the prosecution early last year, asking for the suspension of the commercial contract between CAF and French company Lagardère Sports, saying it violates Egypt’s anti-monopoly laws.
The 72-year-old Cameroonian Hayatou lost his position as CAF head, which he held for 29 years, after losing elections in 2017 to Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar.
The CAF was founded in 1957 in Khartoum by the Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese football associations.
Since Cairo is home to the CAF headquarters, the decisions of its officials should be in accordance with the local laws, according to the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA).