Namibian football pundits and various veteran administrators of the beautiful game have all come out in droves to congratulate Patrice Motsepe, who was on Friday unanimously ushered in as new president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), having run unopposed.
Motsepe, a South African billionaire mining magnet, was Friday officially unveiled as new CAF president – and in his maiden speech in Rabat, Morocco, Motsepe spoke extensively about the importance of unity within continental football; he also shared his plans to fully commercialise TV rights to the benefit of African football and promised to visit every country to meet and share notes with the leaderships of the associations.
The visit to all CAF member associations, Motsepe said, will also provide an opportunity to craft a clear roadmap on how CAF will be working hand in glove with all associations to make sure the corporate sector and governments are on board and remain active development partners.
The CAF elective congress also overwhelmingly approved to increase the number of vice presidents from three to five.
Former president of the Namibia Football Association (NFA) John Muinjo was among the first to congratulate Motsepe for this election as CAF president, saying he has full faith in his ability to steer African football to greater heights and create new growth opportunities for the continent’s youngsters.
“I am happy that he has been elected to that position; I congratulate him and believe he will succeed in bringing African football to another level. Surely, he will be surrounded by knowledgeable people that could assist him. He will certainly need time to acquaint himself with the inner workings of football and should not try to be his own man. If he succeeds to bring the media houses together and solve the TV rights issues, then the battle is halfway won because CAF and football associations depend hugely on revenue generated from TV rights. The Anglophone and Francophone countries saga is another sore point that he needs to tackle head-on because it has deprived Africa commercial opportunities with continuous infights, and unprofessional conduct and marginalisation of others through factionalism and linguistic attachments,” said Muinjo, who, during his presidency, helped Namibia secure and host the 2014 CAF African Women Championship.
Muinjo also said another area Motsepe should focus on is grassroots development and bridging the gap between football associations’ development programmes – and they speak to the needs of schools in African countries.
“Grassroots and women football need proper financial, technical and governmental school structures, and cooperation with football associations’ through CAF development programmes. He will leave a lasting legacy if Africa supports his moral and business ethics that I believe and hope he will use to turn football into an attractive and respected brand the way he has done with his club Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa.”
Also congratulating Motsepe was renowned local football pundit Isack Hamata, saying the South African business has what it takes to being about the needed change but said it will not be an overnight process for him to achieve all his set goals; therefore, he will need to be supported.
“He must root out corruption, strengthen governance and must enable Africans to watch CAF competitions on national/local broadcasting stations instead of Youtube, as we are forced to watch many a time.
Not many African countries have strong internet, and data is expensive to watch competitions online.
CAF must also empower national leagues to become stronger so that they can be as attractive as other leagues.
It won’t be an overnight intervention but he must start to lay the foundations.
There are a lot more southern African officials in CAF and FIFA, Motsepe must ensure that they work for us,” said Hamata.
Also adding his voice yesterday was former NFA secretary general Barry Rukoro, who said Motsepe brings a different dimension to the CAF leadership and African football, in general, as he will be expected to use his business acumen to propel CAF to global heights.
“I think Motsepe will generally make a good leader for African football. He is a complete breakaway from the standard African football leader because he does not need football to make money. He is arriving at the top of African football having already made it. He is also not a tenderpreneur as is the case with a lot of African football leaders, who have thus far been perceived to be well off, while that is not the case. Having a CAF president who will not be corrupted by the giant promotion and TV rights companies is already a victory for the continent. However, what bothers me is the presence of two things; one, why it needed FIFA to intervene and convince the other three candidates to withdraw from the CAF presidential race? And two, why is Véron Mosengo-Omba, a close confidante of the FIFA president, appointed secretary general of CAF? Those two, for me, are points of concern and suggest to me that there may be a deal cut, which may not necessarily be to the benefit of African football. We have read enough of how the continent has been sold in the past and deals were cut on the eve of the independence of many African countries. I hope this is not one such situation,” said Rukoro.
Motsepe will not only lead a revised African confederation but an organisation that will see substantial change at CAF Executive Committee and FIFA Council level following various elections that have also been held.
Mathurin de Chacus (Benin), Isha Johansen (Sierra Leone), Fouzi Lekjaa (Morocco), Amaju Pinnick (Nigeria) and Mamoutou Touré (Mali) will all join Hany Abo Rida (Egypt) on FIFA’s Council, while Kanizat Ibrahim (Comoros) and Mbombo Njoya (Cameroon) were elected to the CAF Executive Committee.
Other regional appointments were also made, with Wadie Jary (Tunisia) elected to the northern zone, and Elvis Raja Chetty (Seychelles) and Maclean Letshwiti (Botswana) both elected to represent the southern zone.