African football banks on billionaire Motsepe to cure “sick” unions

South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe was officially elected the new president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Rabat on Friday. He now faces the biggest challenge in a career filled with business success.

The highly experienced Ivorian football administrator Jacques Anouma, who will advise Motsepe, has described the Cairo-based football organization as “sick”.

The South African newspaper Daily Maverick called the CAF a “cesspool of corruption and self-interest … a dysfunctional organization that barely comes from decades of anti-Diluvian thinking”.

Motsepe succeeds the embarrassed Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad, who is serving a two-year FIFA ban on “board issues”, and will require his large number of business skills to fix the organization.

A plan brokered by FIFA gives Motsepe the responsibility for Senegalese Augustin Senghor and Mauretanian Ahmed Yahya becoming vice-chairmen and Anouma a special adviser.

Motsepe will be the first South African to lead the CAF and follow two Egyptians, a Sudanese, an Ethiopian, a Cameroonian and a Malagasy footprint.

Unlike previous African football leaders, who came from national associations’ backgrounds, his connection to the sport stemmed from owning the record of 2016 African champion Mamelodi Sundowns.

Until a new rule change, the supporter of the Spanish giants Barcelona would not have been eligible to become president because the candidates must be members of the CAF’s executive committee.

The 59-year-old began his working life as a lawyer, switched to mining and is now involved in many companies. Forbes estimates his personal fortune at $ 2.9 billion (€ 2.4 billion).

PHOTO | South Africa’s Ambassador to Morocco, HE Ebrahim Edries (left) participating in the 43rd edition of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Ordinary & Elective General Assembly with the SA delegation, where the businessman, Patrice Motsepe, will be elected to the # CAF- President. pic.twitter.com/MUsG5l9MyF

– DIRCO South Africa (@DIRCO_ZA) March 12, 2021

Here, AFP Sport puts the spotlight on Motsepe, from his childhood in a township near Pretoria to qualifying as a lawyer and then establishing himself as a winner in business and sports:

Childhood

He was born on January 28, 1962 and grew up in Soweto, the huge district near Johannesburg.

His father was a schoolteacher and later the owner of a spa shop (general store), which was mainly visited by black miners.

Patrice helped his father in the business during the school holidays, and it was in the shop that he learned the business principles.

Training

After completing his high school education, Motsepe moved to neighboring Swaziland (now eSwatini) to obtain a bachelor’s degree from the national university in the small kingdom.

He then attended the world-famous University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) on the outskirts of Johannesburg’s central business district and received a law degree.

In 1994, Patrice became the first black partner in a local law firm that also had offices in Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Business

When the price of gold fell in 1997, Motsepe bought a number of gold mines at bargain prices and built the foundation for his fortune.

In the following years, he bought more mines and employed thousands of workers in rural areas where there were limited employment opportunities.

He then diversified into many other business arenas, including insurance and financial services, luxury real estate, banking and telecommunications.

Sports

Motsepe turned Sundowns, a club in Pretoria, into one of the top 10 in Africa and won not only the Champions League but also the CAF Super Cup the following year.

As CAF president, he must cut ties with the club, so his eldest son, Tlhopie, will take over as president of Sundowns, which has won the South African premiere a record ten times.

Patrice is also the joint major shareholder with a 37 percent stake in the Pretoria-based Bulls, currently the most successful rugby team in South Africa.

Family

He is married to Precious Moloi-Motsepe, a physician and fashion entrepreneur, and is the brother-in-law of President Cyril Ramaphosa and former Secretary of State Jeff Radebe.

They have three sons – Tlhopie, Kgosi and Kabelo – although little is known about them because Motsepes avoids the media spotlight.

The family is committed to sharing their wealth and has formed the Motsepe Foundation, which offers financial support to improve the living conditions of poor South Africans.

( Jowharwith AFP)