Patrice Motsepe, a South African billionaire and Africa’s ninth richest male, was announced as the new president of the Confederation of African Football at the organization’s 43rd Ordinary General Assembly on Friday in Rabat, Morocco.
Motsepe, who owns South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns, was elected without opposition to succeed outgoing Ahmad Ahmad, whose three-year reign was marred by allegations of nepotism, corruption, and embezzlement.
He was suspended from all football-related activity for five years in November after being found guilty of violating four different articles of Fifa’s ethics code.
South African billionaire’s ascension to the top of African football comes after Fifa president Gianni Infantino intervened, allegedly supervising the brokering of a contract with the other candidates.
The pact suggested by Infantino – and eventually approved by Motsepe’s opponents – ensures that Augustin Senghor of Senegal and Ahmed Yahya of Mauritania would take over as vice-presidents of South Africa.
Jacques Anouma, an Ivorian who had previously stated his intention to lead the confederation, has been named as Motsepe’s special advisor.
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.
The South African billionaire 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.
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“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.”
Motsepe is the brother-in-law of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and made the majority of his $3.2 billion fortune in mining. Motsepe described good governance, investment in Africa’s sporting infrastructure, and statutory changes as top priorities since taking up the presidency in a 10-point manifesto released ahead of his presidential rivals’ withdrawal.