Patrice Motsepe will be crowned the new president of the Confederation of African Football on Friday after incumbent Ahmad Ahmad failed in his bid to have his five-year ban from football activities overturned at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)
In a ruling handed down on Monday, CAS reduced Ahmad’s ban to two years and his fine reduced to fifty thousand Swiss Francs, meaning the Malagasy national remains banned and as such is ineligible to vie for a second term.
It means the final obstacle for billionaire Motsepe to become the first South African to run the African body has been cleared after three of his rivals Jacques Anouma, Augustin Senghor and Ahmed Yahya – withdrew from the race over the weekend.
The landscape would have been much more complicated for 59-year-old Motsepe if Ahmad had succeeded in completely overturning his ban.
But as things stand, the 61-year-old Ahmad only succeeded in more than halving his sanction and seeing his fine reduced from CH200,000 to CH50,000.
While he was cleared of any wrongdoing in the arrangements concerning CAF business dealings with French company Tactical Steel, Ahmad was still found to have breached three other Fifa ethics rules relating to ‘offering and accepting gifts or other benefits’, ‘abuse of power’ and ‘misappropriation of funds’.
“The CAS Panel has partially upheld the appeal and has reduced the length of the suspension imposed on Mr Ahmad to two years, starting today, less the period of suspension already served between 19 November 2020 and 29 January 2021, and has also reduced the fine,” CAS said in a statement.
The three-person CAS panel found that there was a lack of proper accounting, regarding payments made to Ahmad, for ‘various financial transactions, acceptance of payment in cash, bank transfer and bonuses without a contractual or regulatory basis’.
Ahmad’s organisation of a religious Umrah pilgrimage for Africa’s Muslim-only presidents to Saudi Arabia breached rules relating to the offering of gifts in addition to the misappropriation of funds, the panel also stated.
Motsepe, Africa’s ninth-richest man with a wealth of $2.9 billion according to Forbes magazine, and owner of Mamelodi Sundowns will now lead CAF into the future.
On Saturday, he spoke at a press conference in Mauritania alongside his three onetime rivals – Ivorian Anouma, Senghor of Senegal and Mauritanian Yahya – and FIFA president Gianni Infantino about the decision to come together to back only his candidacy.
“African football needs collective wisdom, but also the exceptional talent and wisdom of every president of every country and every member association,” he said. “That’s what gives me confidence.
“When we all work together with the experience, talent, and passion, football in Africa will experience success and growth that it hasn’t experienced in the past. It requires all of us.”
In his ten-point manifesto outlined in Johannesburg in late February, the mining magnate reiterated his desire to build partnerships and sponsorship within the private sector to boost CAF.
Speaking in Mauritania, Motsepe also spoke of a belief that an African nation will win the World Cup itself in the near future.
“Our objective must be that one of the countries will win the World Cup,” he said. “I think it will happen soon. The talent is there.
“Continuous investment in youth and academies and making competitions globally competitive will be key. We do need the private sector to get involved with financial resources. The commitment to improve and continue to invest is there and the governance transparency is an excellent foundation.”