At the end of negotiations involving States and the president of the International Football Federation (FIFA), Gianni Infantino, only one candidate remained vying for the election of the president of the African Football Confederation (CAF ) which was held on Friday March 12 in Rabat, Morocco. It was the South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe, 59, mining magnate and owner, since 2003, of the Mamelodi Sundowns club in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa ruled for three years by Cyril Ramaphosa, his brother-in-law. brother.

The other three candidates had rallied to him, strongly encouraged by the boss of FIFA, who, during a tour of Africa in February, facilitated these alliances of circumstance. Like the Mauritanian Ahmed Yahya and the Senegalese Augustin Senghor, the Ivorian Jacques Anouma, who vilified “not too democratic” practices, withdrew a week before the election. “I was the first to advocate the sacred union,” said the former president of the Ivorian Football Federation to explain his about-face. The main thing is to get CAF back on track. “

He did not have the support he hoped for from his head of state, Alassane Ouattara, not very enthusiastic about the one who was the financial director of the presidency under Laurent Gbagbo (2000-2011) and too busy by domestic policy. In exchange for the withdrawal of his candidacy, Mr. Anouma obtained a post of special advisor to Mr. Motsepe, while Mr. Yahya and Mr. Senghor are expected to be CAF first and second vice-presidents respectively.

In Nouakchott, on March 6, all the candidates formalized their support for Mr. Motsepe, who saw in it “African wisdom” . “These four gentlemen have made the impossible possible”, savored Gianni Infantino, present in the Mauritanian capital, welcoming the plan “to propel African football to the world summit” .

The stake of Western Sahara

What is presented as a demonstration of “African unity”, an expression borrowed from one of the fathers of Pan-Africanism, the Ghanaian Kwame Nkrumah, who had used football to promote his project, is the result of intense political negotiations. FIFA has relied on the diplomatico-sporting powers of the continent. Starting with Morocco, which, in conjunction with Mr. Infantino, mobilized diplomats, but also its intelligence services.

Senior officials of the latter have visited Senegalese President Macky Sall, an ally of Rabat, so that his candidate withdraws. Morocco fears that South Africa is using CAF to engage in politics around Western Sahara, at the heart of a conflict that has opposed, for decades, Rabat and Algiers.

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