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Head of African football says he wants to get Mali FA president out of jail

The president of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) has said it is his “duty” to ensure the president of the Malian football federation (Femafoot) is released from prison, where he is being held after being accused of embezzling public funds and forgery, the Guardian can reveal.

In comments that may contravene Fifa’s code of ethics, Patrice Motsepe also said he and CAF were “consistently engaging” with authorities in Mali over how to get Mamatou Touré “out of jail”.

Touré – a member of the influential Fifa council – remains in custody in Bamako after he was refused bail last week after an appeal by public prosecutors. He was indicted on 9 August by the Malian government and accused of embezzling a reported $28m (£22.4m) from the state purse during his time as a financial and administrative director in Mali’s national assembly. Touré has denied the allegations and was re-elected as president of Femafoot for a second term in September despite being behind bars.

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Motsepe – the South African mining billionaire businessman who has been Caf’s president since 2021 – underlined his support for Touré when he spoke to journalists on 13 October in Abidjan at the draw for next year’s African Cup of Nations.

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“Pass my regards to our brother today – he’s in our hearts and minds,” Motsepe said of the 66-year-old, who is also a member of Caf’s executive committee. “We are consistently engaging and following the ethical and legal process to get him out of jail. It’s my duty and it’s the duty of all of us in Caf.”

In response, a spokesperson from Caf said that it respected the rule of law and the judicial processes in every African nation. He said: “Caf supports the implementation of appropriate legal measures in line with international legal and judicial best practices. The Caf president, Dr Motsepe, reiterated this commitment to ethical and legal processes. From what was said at the press conference – and we have listened to it again – there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that backs the claim that there is ‘interference’.”

Fifa’s code of ethics state that “in dealings with government institutions, national and international organisations, associations and groupings, officials shall … remain politically neutral, in accordance with the principles and objectives of Fifa, the confederations, associations, leagues and clubs, and generally act in a manner compatible with their function and integrity”. Fifa did not comment when contacted by the Guardian.

Last September, Motsepe was criticised by alleged victims and Fifpro for publicly supporting the president of Gabon’s football federation by visiting him in prison. Pierre-Alain Mounguengui is awaiting trial on charges of not reporting to Gabon’s authorities alleged sexual abuse in the country by a number of coaches after allegations first made in the Guardian. There is no suggestion Mounguengui has been accused of sexual abuse himself. He has not commented on the charges.

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