With reference to the press statement released on Tuesday, November 5 by Lagardère Sports (Lagardère) in connection to the agency agreement signed in 2016 (Agreement) between the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and Lagardère, CAF wishes to clarify the following.
In 2017, the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) found that the Agreement breached Egyptian competition rules because Lagardère was appointed as CAF’s exclusive agent for the marketing and media rights for an uninterrupted 20 year period without any open tender. By the same decision, ECA declared the Agreement null and void and imposed a number of remedies on CAF. Those remedies included the obligation to immediately terminate the Agreement and suspend its effects within the Egyptian market.
The Economic Courts of Cairo then issued two judgments in 2018-2019 (cases No 397/2017 and No 434/2019) whereby they found the two former CAF officials, the former President, Issa Hayatou, and the former Secretary General, Hicham El Amrani, who signed the Agreement guilty of anti-competitive and fraudulent conduct, and imposed a fine of EGP 500 million on each of them. On appeal, the fine was reduced to EGP 200 million and CAF was held to be jointly liable for the payment of that fine.
Finally, in 2017, the Competition Commission of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (“CCC”) assessed that the Agreement infringed the CCC Competition Regulations. It recommended the imposition of a financial penalty on CAF and the adoption of certain remedies, including the termination of the Agreement.
Given the above developments, CAF had no choice but to terminate the Agreement. CAF has repeatedly made it clear to Lagardère, including at a meeting this week, that its termination of the Agreement was not an “unilateral decision” as was wrongly presented in Lagardère’s recent press release. Termination of the Agreement is the legal consequence of the decision of ECA, the judgments of Egyptian courts and the recommendations and imminent decision of the CCC.
CAF invited Lagardère to discuss appropriate next steps and cooperation to ensure the fulfillment of the obligations toward sponsors, licensees and football fans with respect the current competitions. Lagardère has not taken CAF up on that invitation.