South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe stood unopposed in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) presidential elections and is now confirmed as the body’s president.
Motsepe was elected as president without needing a vote after FIFA brokered a deal with the 3 challengers.
Patrice Motsepe is the 9th-richest man in Africa and is the proud owner of South Africa’s football champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
The South African takes over an organisation that suffered under Ahmad Ahmad who was banned by FIFA in November 2020 along with a 5-year suspension for governance issues.
The term was cut down to 2 years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. However, the 2-year ban meant that Ahmad Ahmad could not stand for the new elections.
Just a few weeks ago, Motsepe, Ivorian Jacques Anouma, Mauritanian Ahmed Yahya and Senegalese Augustin Senghor were all contesting for the presidency.
However, FIFA brokered meetings of the contenders in both, Morocco and Mauritania. This led to Motsepe becoming the lone runner.
Senghor and Yahya were given the first and second vice-president roles, respectively.
Anouma who is a former FIFA executive committee member, initially declared the pact as “undemocratic” but ironically, is now a special adviser to newly-elected president Motsepe.
As some CAF officials rallied against alleged interference by the world body, FIFA president Gianni Infantino played down the role of his organisation.
“I am delighted that FIFA has been able to contribute, even if just a little, to this crucial moment for football on this great continent [Africa],” he said.
Former Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)-winning coach Claude Le Roy questioned the involvement of FIFA in Motsepe’s election, given they “would not dare do so in Europe or South America”.
“Infantino, stop the massacre with African football, imposing your law on Africa in the elections,” Le Roy said.
— Samuel Eto’o (@SamuelEtoo) March 12, 2021
FIFA became so concerned by governance issues at CAF under Ahmad Ahmad who had a promising start to his tenure that it sent its secretary general – Fatma Samoura to Cairo, Egypt for six months to assist in the running of the CAF.
Not to forget, Motsepe owns South Africa’s top club Mamelodi Sundowns. They won the CAF Champions League back in 2016.
The billionaire rallied for support and unity in trying to fix the troubled football body.
“Africa needs collective wisdom, but also the exceptional talent and wisdom of every [national football association] president and every member nation,” Motsepe said.
“When we all work together, football in Africa will experience success and growth that it has not enjoyed in the past.”
Motsepe said there was a “sense of extreme urgency” to “stabilise the financial position of CAF”.
However, he also emphasised improving the performances of African teams on the global stage.
“Football is a powerful tool to reassert the pride, the dignity, the global respect of Africans, and Africa can produce and compete at the highest level in the world, both at the World Cup as well as the FIFA club championships,” he said.