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Under-Fire Ex-Club Africain Boss’s Assets Frozen

Trouble is brewing for Slim Riahi after a court ordered all assets of the former Club Africain boss to be frozen.

An investigating judge announced freezing of the football guru’s assets pending a probe into allegations of graft and money laundering.

The 44-year-old leader of the Free Patriotic Union Party is one of the identified key men whose source of wealth is being subjected to an investigation as part of the government’s crackdown on corruption.

Riahi is believed to have brokered shady business deals in the past, one of those linking him to ties with the late Libyan leader Muammar Al-Gaddafi, although Ducor Sports sources in Tunis say that it is not the reason why he’s being prosecuted.

Allegations not true

The Bizerte-born, also a founder of the FPU Party in the aftermath of the Tunisian revolution in 2011, has denied any wrongdoing in the wake of the emerging claims, slamming the allegations as a set up by his detractors and the government.

The indictment of the British-Tunisian petroleum entrepreneur followed just less than 24-hours after making public his withdrawal to seek an extended term as chairman of Tunisian League giants, Club Africain.

Riahi’s move to step aside from the chairmanship battle at Club Africain comes after he failed to convince distraught delegates about how the side’s debts soared to 80 million Dinars during his five-year stint at the helm of affairs, beginning in June 2012.

In the build-up to Tuesday’s Club Congress, in which our source said the former presidential hopeful got booed off the stage, Riahi planned to terminate the contracts of certain players for ‘jeopardising his position’ by daring to go on strike over claims of unpaid salaries, including match bonuses.

Last week, Ducor Sports revealed how players of Club Africain including gaffer Chiheb Ellili, risked the ire of the tycoon in a last-minute ditch attempt to force the then club chairman, to pay what he owed them in earnings.

The 44-year-old, who also owns three established television stations in the Tunisian capital, believes some key ‘seniors’ in the dressing room, influenced players into staging a strike with the backing of ‘some voting delegates’ to unsettle him.

The strike came at an awkward time in the form of boycotting training just a week before the team’s would-be thrilling away first-leg tie with Nigeria’s Rivers United, in a crucial Total CAF Confederation Cup group stage game.

But the former Tunisia presidential hopeful, denied owing any player salary, claiming it was sabotage and a smear campaign.

New club chairman?

The resignation of Riahi as Africain’s chairman creates a void but with very limited individuals willing to occupy the vacant seat – which could mean inheriting an astounding 80 million Dinars in debt accumulated during the course of five years.

Elective Congress is scheduled for July 14th with no candidates said to have announced their intention to vie for the hot-seat.

An observer akin with politics of Tunisian football suggests, an agreement might be reached for Riahi, also holder of a British passport, to continue bankrolling the club to clear some debts for the time being until the outcome of his graft trial is known.

However, that too might be a tough task another pundit believes, given Riahi will face torrid times ahead with restrictions imposed on his stock market shares.



Featured Photo: Getty Images

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