Ahmad Ahmad secured a major success in his reign as the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Wednesday when the Egyptian government finally signed the ‘Hosting Agreement’ to grant the football body diplomatic status.
The signing of the treaty took place in Cairo with Ahmad signing on behalf of CAF while the Egypt sports minister Dr Ahsraff Sobhy signed for his country in the presence of Prime Minister Mustapha Madbouly.
This gives CAF the official status, with diplomatic rights, of an international sports organisation functioning in the country, representing a major diplomatic success for Ahmad.
This also ensures that CAF will be immune from taxes paid by foreign companies in the country while some aspects of the Egyptian law would not be applicable to CAF or its staff.
CAF, which is headquartered in Cairo, has been without the official ‘Hosting Agreement’ with the Egyptian government since 2017, threatening the status of the staff from other African countries who work for the continent’s football governing body.
The agreement also paves the way for President Ahmad to fulfill his promise of making a 50-50 staff split to ensure that others nationals from other parts of the continent can be hired by CAF without work permit problems.
The promise by Ahmad to further Africanise CAF was to ensure that the body truly represents the continent’s diversity as the continental organisation was overwhelmingly dominated by Egyptians.
This proposal to increase the number of staff members looks to have irked the Egyptian government which led to their reluctantce in extending the Hosting Agreement but after negotiations led by Ahmad the agreement was signed on Wednesday.
The agreement also represents a major success for the Egyptian government as there were claims that CAF could be relocated to another country in the absence of the agreement.
CAF has operated in Egypt since 1957, and until 2007 without an official ‘Hosting Agreement’ with the Egyptian government. The 2007 agreement automatically renewed in 2012 for five years but expired in 2017.
The lack of a formal agreement made it particularly difficult for CAF to hire staff from other African countries as they need the hardly granted work permit to be able to work in Cairo.
This created several immigration difficulties for several non-Egyptian staff of CAF as they worked in Egypt without the needed diplomatic rights.