By Mark Gleeson
CAPE TOWN – South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe has been nominated as a candidate for the leadership of the Confederation of African Football as the race for the top post in African soccer gathers momentum.
Motsepe’s candidacy was announced by the South African Football Association at a news conference on Monday with support from Botswana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
“His business acumen makes him a revolutionary choice to change the landscape of African football and make the game on the continent more profitable,” said SAFA president Danny Jordaan.
Motsepe was not present at the announcement.
The 58-year-old mining magnate is the third candidate, ahead of Thursday’s deadline for nominations, following incumbent Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar and the Ivorian Jacques Anouma, a former FIFA executive committee member.
Motsepe is the owner of South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns and has pumped millions into making the club the dominant force in domestic competition plus regular contenders for continental honours. They won the African Champions League four years ago.
Anouma announced his intention to run at the weekend while Ahmad was endorsed by 46 of the 54 CAF member countries in a collective statement last month.
But the CAF president is under investigation by FIFA’s ethics committee for alleged corruption and his imminent suspension, reported by both the BBC and France Football, has opened the door for challengers.
Ahmad, a former minister in Madagascar, won a dramatic election in 2017 when he deposed the long-standing incumbent Issa Hayatou of Cameroon. However, his tenure has been dogged by allegations of embezzlement and the sacking of whistleblowers at CAF headquarters in Cairo.
Ahmad was taken in for questioning by French police in Paris last year amid allegations a French company was involved in the alleged corruption.
The CAF elections are set for Rabat on March 12.