South African billionaire businessman, Patrice Motsepe, is on the verge of becoming the next Confederation of African Football (CAF) president. This assumption is coming as the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) upheld FIFA’s ban on incumbent president, Ahmad Ahmad, while Jacques Anouma of Cote d’Ivoire who is the last challenger for the top prize has thrown his support for Motsepe.
The CAS panel in its ruling on the appeal filed by Ahmad against the November 19, 2020 decision of the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee, partially upheld the appeal and reduced the time of the ban to two years, starting from yesterday March 8, 2021 less the period of suspension already served between November 19, 2020 and January 29, 2021. CAS also went ahead to reduce the fine imposed on Ahmad by FIFA from 200,000 Swiss francs ($214,311) to 50,000. CAS found Ahmad guilty of ethical violations, including the “distribution of gifts” and “misappropriation of funds”. In another case, Ahmad was also accused of using CAF funds to carry presidents of some national federations on a pilgrimage to Mecca, which was “not directly related to football”.
But Ahmad won the appeal on a case, which is related to an alleged breach of an equipment contract with Puma in favour of a French company, Tactical Steel. The bad news is that CAS decisions have ruled out the Malagasy from contesting for CAF’s top job.
Initially the candidates that wanted to succeed Ahmad at the helmsman of African football, were four, they included; Jacques Anouma, Patrice Motsepe, Augustin Senghor and Ahmed Yahya. But during an event of African unity held at the Palais des Congrès in Nouakchott, Mauritania over the weekend, the four proposed a new direction for CAF and African football for the future.
According to Guardian, the attendees at the ceremony were, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, several FIFA Council and CAF Executive Committee members, as well as more than 20 presidents of African member associations. The four candidates stated that what unites them is much stronger than what could potentially divide them. So, they decided to join hands together and form a team under the leadership of Patrice Motsepe as the March 12 CAF presidential elections scheduled to hold in Rabat, Morocco draws closer.
The quartet agreed on a common programme based on their initial manifestos, which includes contributions of all African member associations and stakeholders in a participatory and inclusive process.
Speaking at the event, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, said:
“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. “The agreement reached by the candidates is a strong signal for Africa, and also for the world. Africa is present and is a key player for the future of global football. This is also a sign of unity and commitment in bringing African football to the very top level where it should be. A united Africa behind a concrete vision and project is stronger. United we are stronger.
“This is what we were hearing from the African member associations in the last weeks, so I am sure they are also very happy at this moment. There are some great challenges ahead, but also great opportunities, and I guarantee FIFA’s support and encouragement to fulfil them, especially in line with FIFA Forward objectives related to infrastructure investment, good governance, development and competitions.”
Then, the only candidate, Motsepe stressed that African football needs a collective wisdom,
“But also the exceptional talent and wisdom of every president of every country and every member association, that’s what gives me confidence. 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.
“Football has a unique contribution to make. The most popular players are from Africa. Africa has proven over and over and over again that we have God-given talent amongst the players on this continent. The male, youth players and the women players as well are coming to the fore. It’s wonderful to have good plans and ideas, it’s even more wonderful to have passion.’’
To Anouma, the new partnership offers a unity that has hitherto escaped Africa. “I am happy to be here with you to celebrate the unity of the African football family.”
He said: “It is a decision that was discussed between the four of us, and the position from the start was to ensure that we go for unity in this election, because we were already tired enough of everything that was said about CAF. This unity was built around a common programme that we all wanted. I fully share this idea of getting together, of sharing our experiences and our intelligence. It would be a good thing for our common passion. I fully support this initiative and encourage it.”