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  • Sports - Football - All Teams
  • Updated: March 15, 2021

LIFE: Profiling Patrice Motsepe, The New CAF President Who "Knows Very Little About Football"

On 12 March 2021, South African billionaire, Patrice Tlhopane Motsepe was elected the new CAF President at the organisation’s 43rd Ordinary General Assembly in Rabat, Morocco after his rivals Jacques Anouma, Augustin Senghor and Ahmed Yahya all agreed to withdraw and support his candidacy.

Following that event, media-shy Motsepe who is perceived as a stooge of world football governing body, FIFA, became the first South African to run the governing body of African football as well as the premier Anglophone head of African football.

Patrice Motsepe

Patrice Motsepe (left) with FIFA President, Gianni Infantino

Motsepe, the owner of South African football giants Mamelodi Sundowns, was elected unopposed to replace outgoing Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad, whose three-year reign promised much but was ultimately mottled by accusations of nepotism, corruption and embezzlement.

Ahmad was suspended in November 2020 after being found guilty of breaching four separate articles of FIFA’s ethics code and banned from all football-related activity for five years, although the judgment will later be lightened to two years following his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick supported Motsepe. Pinnick, a new member of the FIFA Executive Council, together Danny Jordaan toured Africa to campaign with and for Motsepe.

Motsepe's motives, however, to enter the murky world of CAF politics remain shrouded in mystery.

Unlike his erstwhile rivals, Motsepe has no experience in football administration.

"To be sincere, he is a big name when it comes to having mines and counting banknotes as a billionaire," Mitchell Obi, President of AIPS Africa said in an interview with TVC News on March 13.

"But he is not a big name when it comes to African football, because he knows very little about the game, even though he is an owner of a club.

"Indeed, he has said that he loves football, and loves football not only stupidly but irresponsibly, and he puts his money there.

"But that doesn't make him a big name when it comes to management of the game, because he is not the one managing his club, Mamelodi Sundowns.

"But come to think of it, he is a successful businessman, who cashed on the post-apartheid period relapse of the fall of Gold, bought mines, and as a lawyer and finance expert, he worked hard to make his billions."

Relatedly, the new CAF chief once explained: “I was asked three, four times: ‘will you stand for CAF?’ I said: ‘No, Absolutely not!’ I am at the stage of my life where I most enjoy the work of my philanthropy.

"The problem is when I focus on doing something, it requires a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and more importantly, tangible progress.

"There is no one in Africa who has lost more money in football than I have. It’s a stupid love.

"African football must become the best in the world. It won’t happen overnight, but that is the test of what we are going to do over the next few years.

"For me, the test is what the results are going to be. You have got to win in the 90 minutes. The buck stops with the president.”

Mitchell continued of Motsepe:

"Here is a man who campaigned for only two weeks. Many didn't get to see him even when he announced his candidacy. That was done by somebody else.

"And now, he has come out, and many people are asking the question, is he going to be remoted-controlled from Zurich? Because he is coming at the instance of the overlords at the FIFA headquarters.

"But then, you want to believe, he is an independent thinker, he has worked so hard to make his mark. He cannot afford football at the management level to damage that [reputation]."

Other things you might not know about Patrice Motsepe

Born in Ga-Rankuwa near Pretoria, South Africa, on 28 January 1962, Motsepe was named after Patrice Lumumba, the first elected Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Lumumba played a crucial role in DR Congo's path to independence from Belgium, and was executed in 1961 following a coup that deposed his government.

Motsepe was named after Lumumba

Late Patrice Émery Lumumba, an African nationalist leader

Motsepe has a law degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, thus making him a lawyer.

He started working at an early age, during school holidays, in his father's Spaza shop, a type of convenience store popular in South Africa.

Patrice Motsepe net worth

Motsepe, the founder and chairman of the first South African black-owned mining company, African Rainbow Minerals, became a billionaire in 2008. The avowed capitalist was the first Black African to feature on the Forbes billionaire list.

Motsepe is married to the fashion entrepreneur Precious Moloi. His elder sister is married to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, meaning he is the brother-in-law of the Southern African nation president.

South Africa fashion entrepreneur and a philanthropist, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe (L), and her husband, billionaire mining businessman Patrice Tlhopane Motsepe at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, 30 November 2018. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

South Africa fashion entrepreneur and philanthropist, Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe (L), and her husband, billionaire mining businessman Patrice Motsepe at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, 30 November 2018. Picture Credit: Nigel Sibanda

In 2003, Motsepe acquired Mamelodi Sundowns and transformed the Pretoria-based club into both a domestic powerhouse, rivaling the traditional South African giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, and a continental force, winning the CAF Champions League in 2016.

Motsepe profile

Motsepe is Africa’s ninth-richest man with an estimated wealth of $3.2 billion. He made his fortune in mining.

In 2013, Motsepe donated half his wealth to charity.

In 2020, Motsepe was ranked as the 1,307th-wealthiest person in the world by Forbes.

READ ALSO: What Africa Needs - New CAF President Patrice Motsepe

In a 10-point manifesto released ahead of the withdrawal of his presidential rivals, Motsepe outlined that good governance, investment in Africa’s sporting infrastructure, and statutory reforms would be among his top priorities after taking up the appointment.

“Africa needs collective wisdom, but also the exceptional talent and work of every (national football association) president and every member nation," Motsepe had said in a speech after his victory.

"When we all work together, football in Africa will experience success and growth that it has not enjoyed in the past."

Time will tell if Motsepe will create a great legacy as CAF boss.

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Ridwan Yusuf
Ridwan Yusuf

Ridwan is a trained Communicator who provides professional coverage of general news and sports. ...

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