Patrice Motsepe, who in November announced his bid to be the Confederation of African Football (Caf) president, is not your “typical” African football administrator, or so Safa boss, Danny Jordaan, thinks.
Sure, under his administrative vision, Mamelodi Sundowns have risen from wealthy underachievers to occupy a comfortable spot at the top table of continental club football.
Pitso Mosimane, the man who, alongside Motsepe helped Sundowns climb the slippery ladder to the apex of African club football, has since left Downs for Al Ahly, Africa’s club of the 20th Century and the second most decorated club in the world.
A “typical” administrator would perhaps be looking to follow suit, searching for an opportunity to improve his CV and add a few more zeros to their bank balance. But, as Jordaan knows, Motsepe is not a “typical” administrator.
Over the years, the “typical” African footballer administrator has not covered himself in glory. A perception has been created that the guardians of the game on the continent are corrupt, that they do not carry the love of the game in their hearts but instead move around with dollar signs in their eyes, taking trip after first class trip around the world not for the improvement of the game but to cash in on eye-watering per diems. They are grifters, pinching pennies from a continental body that needs every cent, as it continues to lag behind its counterparts around the globe in development.
Jordaan, the Caf vice president, does not want another “typical” administrator steering the ship when Caf emerges from the troubled waters of a Covid-19 ravaged football world. This is why he is hedging his bets with Motsepe.
“Who can make a difference, who has a track record?” Jordaan asks FARPost.
“And that brought us to a decision to say it is time we are decisive and bring somebody who is not pleading for the post. He doesn’t need per diem, he doesn’t need anything from anybody, but he is an African, he has an African heart, he has the interest of African football. He has shown that. He has not missed any major African competition, he was at the Caf Champions League final, he was at the Club World Cup in Qatar, in 2018 he was in Russia for the World Cup, he was in Brazil in 2014, in 2010 he was working with us ahead of the World Cup. So, at a global football level he understands the issues so we will work hard because we believe it’s in the interests of the African continent.”
For some, the announcement of Motsepe’s candidature came as a bolt out of the blue. Sundowns, they would have thought, is his sky, the limit of his ambitions in the world of football. After all, Motsepe, who is the first black African to grace the Forbes List and became a billionaire almost 13 years ago, has a lot on his plate.
He founded and owns African Rainbow Minerals and has a stake in Sanlam, a listed financial services firm. The mining magnet’s net worth was recently pegged at $2.1 billion (R34.94 billion) by Forbes. That is hardly the profile of your typical African administrator and that is precisely the reason Jordaan wants him to become the tzar of the African game.
“If we did not believe that Patrice Motsepe has a strong chance, we’d have not nominated him,” he says.
“I think African football is at the crossroads, facing challenges and we believe he can bring the kind of offering in leadership that would benefit African football. He’s no stranger to Africa, he has businesses in almost 44 African countries in the continent. So, he’s been to almost every African country. Not only does he know football, he knows much more than football, he knows the economy, he knows business connections.
“One of the things on the African continent, which is a strange development, you find the biggest economies in the world are China, India, US and Germany and many countries in the Middle East. Most of them invest in the African continent, you go to most countries in Africa, they invest there, and they make billions from the African continent. Africa is rich, it has all the minerals whether it’s oil, diamonds, gold or platinum, fish, we have it, forestry, and we have everything. They invest, they make the money and when it comes to football they don’t invest in African football. They buy Man United – the Glazers, Man City – Middle East, Qatar – PSG.
“If they make the money here, why are they not investing the money here?” the 69-year-old administrator asks.
In Motsepe, a man who has graced the list of top 100 CEOs in the world and has also featured on the Fortune500, Jordaan sees a man who can steer Caf into financially calm waters, becoming the much needed glue between the world of football and business. His football acumen has, after all, already been proven at Sundowns. In the world of money and finance, one can say he wrote the bible on turning black enterprise and innovation into a multi-billion-dollar business.
“There’s a clear disconnect between football and business,” adds the veteran administrator.
“Even the big businessman in the African continent have no links with football so we must look at our own continent and look at the world to say, how can we get a Caf that builds partnerships and relationships with business, not for the sake of business, but for the sake of football so that we can get greater investment into football.
“Every African country must benefit. We must create a better financial environment for football to thrive. Africa is a big market; it is just that we don’t speak with and together with business. That is the key, he (Motsepe) has been in the top 100 most successful CEOs in the world, he’s been in the top 100 Fortune500 companies, he runs a successful club, you talk about Pitso (Mosimane), he came from his club, so he’s identified people that can bring results both in football and in business. So, you need someone who will go into Caf and understand what it means to have a successful Caf, a Caf that is respected, well resourced, that can address the problem of broadcasting on the African continent,” the former Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, Jordaan, adds.
The Port Elizabeth-born administrator is also full of praise for Mosimane, a man who is single-handedly proving that young black coaches, if given a chance, can revolutionise the game and also make an indelible mark on the continent. From the Cape to Cairo, the name Pitso Mosimane now inspires awe and praise after he won two Caf Champions League titles with Mamelodi Sundowns (2016) and Al Ahly (2020).
Coaches like Mosimane give a lot of hope to Jordaan. When he ran for the position of Safa president seven years ago, his campaign promised that junior football development would be one of the cornerstones of his leadership. South Africa and Africa have a crucial shortage of coaches, he said back then, and this had hindered junior football development. He has spent most of his tenure trying to correct this anomaly.
“It’s a general problem on the continent when we look at the number of players and qualified coaches. We’re now at a ratio of one qualified coach for every 100 players and that is an issue. If you look at Germany and Spain, countries that have won the World Cup, the ratio is 1:20. In Spain, every 20 players have 1 qualified coach,” he says.
But come March 12 in Rabat, he will be hoping Motsepe is entrusted with the responsibility to steer muddied Caf forward.
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