DR Congo’s former Fifa Council member handed one-year ban

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Constant Omari

DR Congo’s former interim Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Constant Omari has been suspended from football for one year by Fifa for breaking its code of ethics.

The former Fifa Council member was adjudged to have received benefits from Lagardere during negotiations between the French media company and Caf.

Caf’s one-time vice-president is believed to have received just over 66,000 Euros (US$80,000), which football’s world governing body has requested he pays as a fine as part of his sanction.

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Omari, who recently left his role as DR Congo’s football federation president after a 16-year reign, entered into a plea bargain arrangement with Fifa.

“A formal investigation against Mr Omari was opened on 7 January 2021,” said Fifa in a statement.

“[It] concerned certain benefits accepted and received from Lagardere Sports, in relation to the negotiations that he conducted for an agreement between Caf and Lagardere Sports in connection with the commercialisation of certain TV rights licenced to the LC2 company and to the collection of the latter’s outstanding debt.

“The negotiations, which were led by Mr Omari on behalf of Caf, resulted in contractual provisions that were particularly detrimental to Caf, causing significant financial damage to the confederation.

“In this respect, the receipt of benefits created a conflict of interest that detracted from Mr Omari’s ability to perform his duties to Caf with integrity and in an independent and purposeful manner.”

In early 2019, Omari oversaw an amendment to the billion-dollar deal that Caf had made with Lagardere Sports in 2015.

Under this amendment, Caf agreed to pay Lagardere $6.7m for around $20m of debt, related to outstanding TV rights payments, owed by Beninois sports agency LC2 GROUP to the French company.

In January, Omari was barred from running for re-election to the Fifa Council, on which he had sat since 2015 after he failed an integrity check owing to Fifa’s ongoing investigation into the Lagardere amendment.

This decision was confirmed in March when sport’s highest legal body, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, rejected his appeal against his exclusion.

Omari was stand-in Caf president at the time after former president Ahmad of Madagascar had been banned himself by Fifa for violating the ethics code.

Omari’s ban will end on 18 June 2022, a year after it started.

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