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The New Arab

African football chief referred to prosecution by Egyptian watchdog

Issa Hayatou is accused of misusing his influence over broadcasting rights [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 January, 2017

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Cairo-based Confederation of African Football comes under fire over business competition rules weeks before the continent's Cup of Nations.
The chief of the Confederation of African Football [CAF], Issa Hayatou, has been referred to prosecution by Egypt's competition watchdog who accuse the football chief of having breached monopoly rules with an exclusive billion-dollar broadcasting deal.

The move was announced by the Egyptian Competition Authority [ECA] on Wednesday.

The ECA, which falls under Egypt's industry ministry, has alleged that an exclusive deal between CAF and French marketing agency Lagardere Sports for African Nations Cup tournaments breaches anti-trust laws.

The watchdog also issued an order on Thursday demanding that television rights in Egypt be widened, adding that it would "oversee the Confederation of African Football's commitment" to the changes.

The Cairo-based CAF denied any wrongdoing on Thursday, saying that no mention of "prosecution against the president of CAF" was mentioned in a letter received from the ECA.

It said that an agreement to extend a broadcasting deal with Lagardere for tournaments until 2028 "does not contravene national or supranational legislation".

The deal, which gives Lagardere media and marketing rights for all CAF tournaments, also covers the Cup of Nations which begins in Gabon on January 14.

The competition authority alleges that Hayatou, an influential powerbroker in world football, "misused his controlling position in the method and system of offering football tournaments’ broadcast rights".

It said that the Cameroonian official gave Lagardere Sports broadcasting rights, "without offering them to other companies interested in acquiring them in a normal framework that guarantees free and fair competition".

The authority added that this extension will mean that Lagardere, "will hold this right for two consecutive periods and for 20 years".

The ECA's action against the CAF is being carried out under Egypt's Law of Protection of Competition and Prohibition of Monopolistic Practises.

Accoring to the ECA, the football authority, "intentionally ignored several requests to offer to sell these rights in the framework of a public auction that takes into account the rules of fair and transparent competition".

The competition authority demanded that CAF "cancels the agreement between it and Lagardere Sports, as well as its outcomes inside the Arab Republic of Egypt". It added that the CAF must make a new broadcast rights tender for 2017 to 2018.

This will not affect the Cup of Nations, which was tendered out to Doha-based BeIN Sports by Lagardere.

The ECA also demanded that the CAF give direct satellite broadcast rights for the tournament to another company that will air it within Egypt.

It added that internet broadcast rights must be given to a third company.

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