‘First’ for South Africa as Motsepe is voted in as new CAF president

Keir Radnedge – AIPS Football Delegate

LONDON, March 12, 2021 – South African millionaire business Patrice Motsepe has been elected unopposed as new president of the African football confederation at today’s election congress in Rabat, Morocco.

Motsepe’s surprise ascent has been achieved with influential support from Gianni Infantino. The president of world federation FIFA has spent much of the last few weeks focusing on the need to impose his choice as replacement for scandal-hit and banned Ahmad Ahmad.

“It’s a huge honour and privilege for me [to be Caf president],” said Motsepe.

“Let me thank my brother [FIFA president] Gianni [Infantino] for the vision and encouragement of unity. We can only deal with the challenges of Africa and we will succeed, but we will only do so when we are united.”

Infantino has been heavily criticised in some quarters for taking  a puppet-master role but this would seem perfectly justified considering the millions of dollars of FIFA development funding which has ‘gone missing’ in Africa down the years.

Infantino will hope this is second time lucky: his misjudged support in 2017 of Ahmad to replace Cameroon’s long-serving Issa Hayatou turned out to be disastrous.

Motsepe’s accession also marks a notable coup for the behind-the-scenes work of Danny Jordaan, the South African FA president who has known his share of political ups and downs since leading the country’s successful bidding and hosting of the 2010 World Cup finals.

Motsepe’s election, despite his late arrival in the complex African football political scene, ends decades of the domination of CAF by the Francophone-Arab central and northern regions.

Infantino, addressing the election congress in positive mood, said: “We must stop saying it is necessary to develop African football. It is about projecting it to the summit of world football.

“The time for talking has stopped. We must move on, and we must move on as a team: as a CAF team and a FIFA team that also includes all the confederations and associations from all over the world. You are CAF. You are FIFA.”

The allusion to teamwork only underscored the consensus that FIFA and its president will be keeping a very close eye on the African governing body. This, according to some speculation, could even mean FIFA’s secretary-general Fatma Samoura moving into a similar role with CAF.

As Infantino added, in relation to Motsepe’s election: “I want to assure you that FIFA is not at your side. FIFA is together with you.”

Motsepe, the owner of Mamelodi Sundowns, one of South Africa’s most successful teams and 2016 African champions, is looking forward to a bright future.

“The leadership we have in Africa and the leadership we have of football in every country gives me confidence and inspires me.

“I am absolutely confident that by working together, we will indeed succeed to make African football not just reach the summit but be amongst the best in the world.”

The 52 members present at the General Assembly voted to increase the number of CAF vice-presidents from three to five.

The CAF vice-presidents are: first vice – Augustin Senghor of Senegal; second vice – Ahmed Yahya of Mauritania; third vice – Souleiman Waberi of Djibouti; fourth vice – Fouzi Lekjaa of Morocco; fifth vice – Amaju Pinnick of Nigeria.

The withdrawal of candidates Senghor, Yahya and Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast paved the way for Motsepe to be elected unopposed.

Elections for both CAF’s Executive Committee and for Africa’s representation on the FIFA Council were also held.

FIFA Council members elected for the next four years are: Hany Abou Rida of Egypt; Fouzi Lekjaa of Morocco; Amaju Pinnick of Nigeria; Mamoutou Toure of Mali; Mathurin De Chacus of Benin and Aisha Johansen of Sierra Leone.

Members of the CAF Executive Committee are: Wadie Jary of Tunisia (North); Mustapha Raji of Liberia (West A); Seidou Mbombo Njoya of Cameroon (Central); Djibrilla Hamidou of Niger (West B); Souleiman Waberi of Djibouti (Central East); Elvis Chetty of Seychelles (South); Maclean Letshwithi of Botswana (South); Kanizat Ibrahim of Comoros (Female).

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