Mamelodi Sundowns owner Patrice Motsepe outlines CAF presidency manifesto to 'unite Africa'

Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images

Mamelodi Sundowns owner Dr. Patrice Motsepe unveiled his 10-point manifesto for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) presidency in a press conference on Thursday as he looks to succeed Ahmad Ahmad as the head of African football and unite the continent in the process.

Revealing his plans at the Sandton Convention Centre, in Johannesburg, he gave a first glimpse of his vision for African football in the presence of supporters Danny Jordaan, the president of the South Africa Football Association; Dr Phillip Chiyangwa, president of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA); Dr Irvin Khoza, chairman of South Africa's Premier Soccer League; and South Africa's sports minister, Nathi Mthethwa.

Central to Motsepe's vision is his desire to reunite a continent fractured by the controversies and political machinations that overshadowed Ahmad's time at the helm of CAF.

"I love football," Motsepe said in launching his manifesto, setting the tone for a positive vision for African football.

"I don't think there is anyone on the continent who has lost more money to football than me.

"That's what this sport means to me. We have to win. I want to use sport to unite Africa.

"Those who know [Africa's] history know that we are all one people, these borders are artificial.

"We will succeed and make African football globally competitive. The test for me is what the results will be in two, three, four years from now."

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Underpinning Motsepe's manifesto, the Sundowns owner outlined his intention to get greater exposure -- and therefore greater revenue -- for the sport in Africa.

"Football needs to be accessible to all corners of Africa," he said.

"Any TV rights companies who will give us quality service to achieve that objective are welcome to sit with us around a table.

"My No. 1 duty is to football, not to any club or any country. We are going to run CAF in a manner that is world class.

"We need honesty and we need transparency to build trust, bearing in mind that we have to use football to bring people together."

Motsepe, who has built his reputation as a shrewd and ambitious football administrator during his tenure with Sundowns, delivered an outline of plans to oversee greater investment in each African country "through sponsorships, private sector and other partners." He also vowed to invest in the continent's football infrastructure.

In response to the ongoing accusations of financial mismanagement, corruption and nepotism that have blighted the organisation during Ahmad's tenure, Motsepe shared that he planned to "implement and adhere to governance and auditing global best practices" while overseeing statutory reforms.

He also revealed intentions to partner with FIFA and other continental governing bodies, to establish Video Assistant Referees (VAR) across the continent, and to "protect the integrity [of]" while "professionalizing" Africa's referees.

Allaying concerns about a broader re-centring of African football governance, Motsepe dismissed rumours that he was considering moving CAF headquarters from Cairo to Johannesburg.

The presidents of Africa's national federations will take to the ballots on Mar. 12 to elect a successor to Ahmad, who replaced the long-standing Issa Hayatou in March 2017.

Motsepe will stand against Ahmed Yahya of Mauritania, the Ivory Coast's Jacques Anouma, and Augustin Senghor of Senegal. Malagasy administrator Ahmad has been disqualified from running.

Ahmad was suspended from his post in November after being found guilty of various infringements by FIFA's Ethics Committee. The Court of Arbitration for Sport later issued a ruling restoring Ahmad as CAF president, but he has not been permitted to stand again.

"We have a leader who is not part of that past, a leader who can generate confidence, bring financial stability," CAF third vice-president Jordaan said in support of Motseppe.

"We are presenting a difference-maker."

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is another luminary to have backed the bid of 59-year-old Motsepe, who was ranked ninth in Forbes' 2021 list of Africa's richest people.

As well as largely appearing to harness the collective votes of COSAFA and the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations, Motsepe has also received vocal support from Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea. Nigeria football chief Amaju Pinnick has also backed the South African administrator.