Fifa has shown a measure of enterprise by facilitating the passage of Patrice Motsepe to the top seat of African football, writes Herman Gibbs.
CAPE TOWN – Fifa, world football’s governing body, has shown a measure of enterprise by facilitating the passage of Patrice Motsepe to the top seat of African football.
On Friday the South African billionaire businessman will become the eighth president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) when the organization’s elections are held in Rabat, Morocco.
Some might say Friday’s elections have been stage-managed because three candidates who had initially thrown their names into the hat for the hot seat of CAF president have been convinced to withdraw and rather support Motsepe.
Others might say it is interference in the domestic affairs of the continental body.
But Motsepe is clearly the right man for the job and it is a good thing FIFA stepped in.
The Swiss-Italian Fifa president Giovanni Infantino has been visiting various parts of Africa for the past few weeks and during that time he has explained why Africa should be unified and support Motsepe.
Very often Infantino’s roadshow was running parallel to Motsepe’s election campaign, which was headed by Danny Jordaan, the president of the South African Football Association.
On reflection, it looks like Fifa’s electioneering efforts have been justified and ensured that Africa can call on a president that has the respect of the continent. Above all, someone that has passed Fifa’s ‘Eligibility Test’ with flying colours.
When CAF have been left to its own devices it would seem they have shown poor judgement. The last president they chose the Madagascar politician and football administrator Ahmad Ahmad. Last year, he was found guilty of abuse of office, distribution of gifts and misappropriation of funds during his term of office.
Despite this rotten record, he still harboured hopes of regaining the presidency, probably because he felt he could count on support among CAF member associations. He was stopped in his tracks on Monday when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) slapped him with a two-year ban and that effectively ended any chance of hijacking the elections on Friday.
CAF’s members did no better when they decided on the stand-in president at the time of Ahmad’s suspension. They opted for Congolese football administrator Constant Omari Selemani, one of CAF’s vice-president.
Just two months at the helm in an interim capacity, Selemani failed Fifa’s ‘Eligibility Test’. In a statement Fifa said he failed “because of an ongoing formal investigation by the Fifa ethics committee”.
So many other CAF officials have brought disgrace to the organization and this must have prompted Fifa to do what they have done in respect of the upcoming elections.
Fifa had decided some time ago that it was not satisfied with the status quo of African football and rather than just be on-lookers take the lead to help steer African football to a position of sound governance.
Over the weekend, Fifa, for the first time, admitted its role in the upcoming elections and said it was a way of contributing to the growth of football on the African continent.
Motsepe, CAF’s president-elect, has refused to lap up the excitement that has been building up all week. Ever courteous, Motsepe refused to be drawn into the hysteria on Monday and said to a pressman: “I was always taught do not count your chickens before they hatch.”