Patrice Motsepe, a South African billionaire mining magnate, will be named the new president of African football later this week, capping off a turbulent few weeks of campaigning.
After an agreement brokered by Fifa president Gianni Infantino, the 59-year-old Motsepe, who is among the continent’s wealthiest men, has been appointed the new Confederation of African Football (CAF) president.
The last roadblock to his coronation, which will take place at the CAF Congress in Rabat on Friday, was lifted on Monday when the Court of Arbitration for Sport affirmed CAF President Ahmad Ahmad’s five-year suspension for graft, but reduced it to two years.
After Ahmad was barred in November, the arena was wide open for new candidates, with Motsepe emerging as a surprise contender.
He has not historically held office in football administration and has an obscure image close to that of oligarchs investing in top European clubs. He is the owner of the famous South African team Mamelodi Sundowns, who won the African Champions League in 2016.
He was up against Ivory Coast’s Jacques Anouma, Senegal’s Augustin Senghor, and Mauritania’s Football Federation president Ahmed Yahya, but the possibility of a fascinating battle ended in a bargain that saw Motsepe taking the presidency and Senghor and Yahya named vice-presidents.
Anouma will take on the role of special advisor.
When asked by reporters on Friday, Infantino denied any role in the succession, but one day later, at a ceremony in Mauritania to seal the agreement between the quartet, the Fifa president admitted that the world soccer governing body had played a role.
“I am delighted that Fifa has been able to contribute, even if just a little, to this crucial moment for football on this great continent,” he said.
Motsepe, who is South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa’s brother-in-law, has pledged to use his corporate contacts to increase CAF’s advertising agreements and revenue from broadcasting and marketing rights, as well as to make the Cairo-based organization more competent.