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Mining magnate Patrice Motsepe officially ascends to CAF presidency

Mining magnate Patrice Motsepe officially ascends to CAF presidency
Patrice Motsepe.(Photo: Patrick T Fallon / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Patrice Motsepe is the seventh president of the Confederation for African Football after being elected unopposed during the confederation’s general assembly in Rabat, Morocco.

Patrice Motsepe’s four-year term as the Confederation for African Football’s (CAF) president has officially begun. With it, he has become the first Southern African to take over the reins of Africa’s football governing body. 

The presidency at the organisation has traditionally been dominated by candidates from north and east Africa. As such, Motsepe’s taking over the hotseat is a historic move, and one which people who have a vested interest in the future of African football will be pleased to see.

In recent decades football’s controlling body has been plagued by corruption allegations, with now former president Ahmad Ahmad initially banned for five years by Fifa for misdemeanours while in power. 

The hope is that Motsepe’s rein will help clear up that dark cloud that has hovered over the regulatory body. 

“On the issue of governance and ethics in African football, there are many companies all over the world who want give money to football but they want to be comfortable that the money will not go into the pockets of the leadership of football, and that the money will indeed be used to develop, to grow, to contribute towards the improvement of the quality of football in Africa,” said Motsepe at his recent manifesto launch.

Fifa, through its president Gianni Infantino, led the way in brokering a deal which meant Motsepe would ascend to the highest seat in African football, unchallenged. 

Fellow presidency hopefuls, Mauritania’s Ahmed Yahya and Ivory Coast’s Jacques Anouma, pulled the plug on their campaigns following those talks. Another challenger, Senegal’s Augustin Senghor, had been the first to renounce his participation in the elections. 

Under the deal, Yahya and Sengour will work alongside Motsepe as first and second vice president respectively. Anouma will take up the role of “special adviser” to the new president.

“African football needs collective wisdom, but also the exceptional talent and wisdom of every president of every country and every member association,” Motsepe after his rivals conceded the race.

“When we all work together with the experience, talent, and passion, football in Africa will experience success and growth that it hasn’t experienced in the past. It requires all of us.”

There was still a potential spanner in the works however, with Ahmad having appealed his five-year ban by Fifa at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). When the CAS announced that it had reduced his ban from five to two years last week, Motsepe cleared his last hurdle: A two-year ban meant Ahmad could still not contest the elections.

Speaking during the CAF elections in Rabat, Infantino said he was looking forward to a new dawn for African football.

“With the four candidates for the presidency, you all had the same vision, the same ideas. You all want a strong and united Africa, protecting itself and building a beautiful future. And today we are celebrating this unity,” said the Fifa president.

The sky is not the limit

The mining magnate’s new role means he has to cede his previous position as president of Mamelodi Sundowns, a position he has held since buying the 2016 African Champions in 2004. 

During his recent manifesto launch, Motsepe announced that his eldest son, Tlhopie Motsepe, would take over at Sundowns when Motsepe senior takes up office at CAF’s base in Cairo, Egypt.   

“Sundowns will never lose me. My heart and soul will always be with Mamelodi Sundowns. But why my wife is here‚ and why my children are here is because of the deep emotional commitment we have to Mamelodi Sundowns. And I’m talking here not just of the love but also the financial commitment,” said Motsepe.

“If I’m honoured and privileged to be elected, I will have to step aside [at Sundowns]. In our culture my eldest son is going to be the new chairman. And his mother will be there‚ and his brothers will be there.” 

Tlhopie Motsepe will not be thrown into the deep as his father has always had close advisers such as directors Rejoice Simelane and Andrew Matube, as well as legal and commercial manager Yogesh Singh.

As such, Motsepe’s departure from the club’s running should not have any significant impact on how they perform on the field. DM

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