South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe was officially elected as the new president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Rabat on Friday. He now faces the greatest challenge of a career filled with business successes.
Vastly experienced Ivorian football administrator Jacques Anouma, who will advise Motsepe, has described the Cairo-based football body as “sick”.
South African newspaper the Daily Maverick called CAF a “cesspool of corruption and self-interest… a dysfunctional organisation barely emerging from decades of antediluvian thinking”.
Motsepe succeeds disgraced Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad, who is serving a two-year FIFA ban over “governance issues”, and will require his vast array of business skills to fix the organisation.
A plan brokered by FIFA puts Motsepe in charge with Senegalese Augustin Senghor and Mauritanian Ahmed Yahya becoming vice-presidents and Anouma a special advisor.
Motsepe will be the first South African to lead CAF, following in the footsteps of two Egyptians, a Sudanese, an Ethiopian, a Cameroonian and a Malagasy.
Unlike previous African football leaders, who came from national association backgrounds, his connection with the sport stems from owning record 2016 African champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
Until a recent rule change, the supporter of Spanish giants Barcelona would not have been eligible to become president as candidates had to be CAF executive committee members.
The 59-year-old began his working life as a lawyer, switched to mining, and is now involved in many businesses. Forbes magazine estimates his personal wealth at $2.9 billion (2.4 billion euros).
“Africa needs collective wisdom, but also the exceptional talent and wisdom of every (national football association) president and every member nation,” he said.
“When we all work together, football in Africa will experience success and growth that it has not enjoyed in the past.”
Africa has suffered serious setbacks in recent years with all five qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia eliminated after the first round — the worst showing in 36 years.
Last November, Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad became the first CAF president to be banned by FIFA, with a five-year suspension for “governance issues” cut to two after appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Just a few weeks ago, Motsepe, Ivorian Jacques Anouma, Mauritanian Ahmed Yahya and Senegalese Augustin Senghor were locked in an intriguing struggle for the presidency.