South African billionaire, Patrice Motsepe on Friday in Rabat, Morocco emerged as the new president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Motsepe was elected without the need for a vote after a deal brokered by FIFA saw his three challengers withdraw, leaving him as the sole candidate.
The 59-year-old Motsepe who owns Mamelodi Sundowns FC of South Africa was confirmed by acclamation at the CAF’s 43rd General Assembly meeting.
He is also a mining mogul and brother-in-law to South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa.
He replaces Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar who is currently serving a reduced two-year ban for financial misconduct.
Motsepe, who is the owner of South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns, was elected unopposed to replace outgoing Ahmad Ahmad, whose three-year reign promised much but was ultimately mottled by accusations of nepotism, corruption and embezzlement.
He was suspended in November after being found guilty of breaching four separate articles of Fifa’s ethics code and banned from all football-related activity for five years.
The 59-year-old Motsepe’s ascent to the pinnacle of African football comes following intervention by Fifa president Gianni Infantino, who reportedly supervised the brokering of a deal with the other candidates.
The pact proposed by Infantino – and ultimately accepted by Motsepe’s rivals – means that Senegal’s Augustin Senghor and Ahmed Yahya of Mauritania will take up roles as the South African’s vice-presidents.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who was in attendance in Rabat in his remarks in the General Assembly commended the African Member Associations for the unity they have displayed in the last few weeks.
The 59-year-old Motsepe is an accomplished South African businessman and philanthropist and no stranger to football.
For almost two decades, he has been the President of a South African club, Mamelodi Sundowns.
Ivorian Jacques Anouma, who had previously outlined his desire to take the confederation’s reins, has been appointed as special advisor to Motsepe.
Until Monday, Ahmad loomed as a potential rival to Motsepe on election day, but after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the former’s ban for corruption, while reducing his suspension to two years, the path was cleared for the Sundowns chief to take the presidency.
He was confirmed unopposed in his new role on Friday as Africa’s 54 football association heads forwent the formality of the voting process.
Unlike his erstwhile rivals, Motsepe has no experience in football administration, and represents an unlikely candidate for president.
His experience within the sport has been rooted with Sundowns, the Pretoria-based club he bought in 2003.
Under his guidance – and backed by considerable investment – the Brazilians became only the second South African side to win the Caf Champions League in 2016, and have won seven domestic titles.
“There is no one in Africa who has lost more money in football than I have,” Motsepe told journalists in a press conference to reveal details of his candidacy last month. “It’s a stupid love.
“African football must become the best in the world,” he added. “It won’t happen overnight, but that is the test of what we are going to do over the next few years.”
Media-shy Motsepe made the bulk of his $3.2 billion fortune in mining, and is the brother-in-law of South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.
In a 10-point manifesto released ahead of the withdrawal of his presidential rivals, Motsepe outlined that good governance, investment in Africa’s sporting infrastructure and statutory reforms would be among his top priorities after taking up the appointment.
The veiled maneuvers by FIFA in recent weeks to try to influence the result of the presidential elections of the African Football Confederation (CAF) this Friday in Rabat (Morocco) have given the result that its president, Gianni Infantino, was looking for: retain at all costs the long-term support of a continent whose image has been damaged by the countless episodes of corruption and abuse of power that occurred during the triennium in command of African football by Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad, who was deposed from office in November by the Ethics Committee of FIFA itself.
The need to find in the new strong man of the CAF a faithful ally that manages to bring together the majority of the 54 member associations around him, with an eye on the 2023 elections, is the reason why Infantino has rolled up his sleeves in the last month to put Patrice Motsepe and Ahmed Ould Yahya, his two related candidates, on the ground during an electoral campaign that has led the Swiss to visit Mauritania, Senegal, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Congo-Brazzaville, DR Congo, Sudan, Morocco and South Africa.
It should not be forgotten that both candidates were validated by FIFA despite the doubts that CAF itself had regarding the suitability of their portfolios: billionaire Motsepe, a personal friend of Donald Trump, invited the 54 CAF presidents to Pretoria to attend the 50th anniversary of his club, the Mamelodi Sundowns, thereby contravening the FIFA code of ethics. For his part, Ould Yahya was one of the African presidents who participated in the pilgrimage trip to Mecca in 2018, organized by Ahmad and financed with CAF funds, despite being private.
The last episode of this sinister soap opera that the presidential elections of African football have become took place days ago in Rabat. There, three of the applicants were summoned, namely Yahya, Jacques Anouma from Ivory and Augustin Senghor from Senegal, by the president of the Moroccan federation, Fouzi Lekjaa, on the pretext of seeking an agreement to present a single candidacy on behalf of West Africa. . To the surprise of those present, Veron Mosengo-Omba and Mathias Grafstrom, two of the heavyweights of Infantino’s work team, also made an appearance at the conclave.
Emissaries from the FIFA president tried to persuade attendees to withdraw their candidacies and support South African Motsepe, who has become Infantino’s favorite over the weeks to succeed his longtime ally Ahmad. Mosengo and Grafstrom offered Yahya and Senghor the first and second vice presidencies of the CAF in exchange for their support, while the Ivorian Anouma was proposed to occupy a position of ‘special advisor’ if he withdrew from the elections. Both the Mauritanian and the Senegalese accepted the deal almost instantly, but the Ivory Coast leader did not.
Anouma, a former member of the CAF Executive and the FIFA Council, was emerging as the only candidate who did not seem willing to follow under any circumstances the rules of the game that Infantino already imposed during the chaotic mandate of Ahmad Ahmad. The experienced Ivorian leader had the support of some French-speaking federations that think in the same way and, above all, with the institutional backing of the government of his country. But this support was used as a battering ram against him, with the clear intention of forcing him to resign.
The head of the FIFA Governance Committee, Mukul Mukdal, asked Anouma for an official statement denying that he received more than 15 million euros from state coffers to finance his election campaign. The government of Côte d’Ivoire itself came up against such information, of dubious origin, through a statement in which it stated that “our support for Jacques Anouma has only been carried out through diplomatic and political channels.”
However, the pressure on the Ivorian candidate has been such in recent days that last Saturday he chose to step aside and officially announce his resignation from the presidential race. The difference with the other two candidates who withdrew is that they do support the candidacy of Donald Trump’s friend and the ninth richest man in Africa according to Forbes magazine, which estimates his personal fortune at $ 2.9 billion.