Musa Bility, former President of the Liberian Football Association, has been banned from all football activities by FIFA for 10 years over misappropriation of its funds.
The ban, according to FIFA comes after a year and a half investigations found the ex-president of the LFA “guilty of having misappropriated Fifa funds relating to those granted under the global body’s “11 against Ebola” campaign and as part of its Financial Assistance Programme.
The FIFA investigation which was triggered by a forensic audit of the LFA last year March, sued the 52-year-old $500,000 Swiss franc for breaching its code of ethics by misusing others’ resources sent to the LFA and diverting money to businesses controlled by him or his family.
In a statement, FIFA Ethics Committee said: “The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has found Mr Musa Hassan Bility, member of the CAF executive committee, as well as former President of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) and former Fifa Standing Committee member, guilty of having misappropriated Fifa funds, as well as having received benefits and found himself in situations of conflict of interest, in violation of the Fifa Code of Ethics.”
The statement added: “The investigation proceedings against Mr. Bility, which were formally initiated on 18 May 2018 (following a forensic audit of the LFA), related to the misappropriation of the funds granted under Fifa’s “11 against Ebola” campaign and Fifa Financial Assistance Programme funds received by the LFA in 2015, as well as to various payments made by the LFA to (and received from) entities owned by or connected to Mr. Bility and his family.”
“In its decision, the adjudicatory chamber found that Mr. Bility had breached Article 28 (Misappropriation of funds), Article 20 (Offering and accepting gifts or other benefits) and Article 19 (Conflicts of interest) of the 2018 edition of the Fifa Code of Ethics and sanctioned him with a 10-year ban from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level. In addition, a fine in the amount of CHF 500,000 has been imposed on Mr. Bility.”
Mr. Bility’s country, Liberia, was one of three West African countries affected by the outbreak of Ebola between 2013 and 2016, which took away over 12,000 people’s lives.
Mr. Bility’s ban which takes effect on Wednesday, July 24, 2019, comes less than a month after he filed a case against Fifa to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over FIFA direct role in the running of African football.
The Ex-LFA president who has been critical of FIFA recently, was the only member at the recent CAF executive committee members meeting in Cairo, Egypt, to oppose the plan — arguing that it contravened both Fifa and CAF regulations.
In his complained to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, Mr. Bility asked the court to declare invalid the agreement by which FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura will be sent on a secondment to overhaul the African governing body.
“I have filed an appeal with Cas against Caf in its decision to allow the appointment of Fifa and FIFA officials to oversee and overtake matters that ought to be in the exclusive hands of African football.
“It is my firm belief that the appointment by Caf of the General Delegate Fatma Samoura was done in contravention of the relevant rules and regulations and I have enlisted legal counsel to seek the relief.
“I am pursuing this case for the exclusive purpose of ensuring that African football can thrive in an independent manner consistent with the rule of law where we as a continent can be proud of our achievements,” Mr. Bility told the BBC after filing in his complaint with Court of Arbitration for Sports.
The ‘co-operation agreement’, signed about a month ago between CAF and FIFA will see Fifa Secretary-General Fatma Samoura working with CAF, Africa football governing body as a ‘General Delegate to Africa’ beginning August 1, 2019.
The head of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, said the decision to bring in Samoura was given “almost unanimous” support by Caf’s Executive Committee members with only Bility believed to be the sole voice of dissent.
However, Pinnick insisted that Samoura’s appointment would help “strengthen our judicial, governance and fiscal discipline”. Fifa President Gianni Infantino said he believed the plan would help “significantly improve” football on the continent.
Mr. Bility who was ban yesterday, once attempted to become the president of FIFA after its former President Sepp Blatter step aside in 2015, but was barred at the time from contesting after failing to pass integrity tests.
Mr. Bility, a former executive member resigned from the CAF emergency committee and the African Nations Championship (Chan) standing committees has previously slammed the African football governing body leadership over the way the game is run on the continent.
In his resignation from the two committees, Mr. Bility said he was standing down with from the two committees with “sadness and a huge sense of disappointment” and warned that continental football governing body risked becoming a “subject of ridicule around the world.”
“I can no longer summon the courage to work in these posts at the whims and caprices of the president, who I believe is leading this noble organization in the wrong direction.
“I believe we are worse than we were two years ago. Our situation is such that today the president has demonstrated brazen disregard for the Executive Committee but chooses to run Caf with close associates he feels comfortable around and carries a certain degree of respect for.”