— Published 2 March 2021

Infantino plays the Motsepe card

Would the stakes already be over in the campaign for the presidency of the African Football Confederation (CAF)? According to several sources, FIFA and its president, Gianni Infantino, have chosen their candidate. And they would put everything in place to ensure his victory without even going through the ballot box. Ten days before the vote, three of the postulants, Senegalese Augustin Senghor, Mauritanian Ahmed Yahya, and Ivorian Jacques Anouma, are said to be ready to withdraw in favour of South African Patrice Motsepe (photo above). The first two would have been offered by Gianni Infantino, a post of vice-president, in exchange for their renunciation. The third would have accepted a function of adviser to the future president of CAF. According to a source familiar with the matter, quoted by AFP, Patrice Motsepe “has FIFA’s preference, which wants someone new, not involved in the old management, to attract new sponsors, investors and give a more beautiful image of the CAF after all that has happened”. The arrangement wanted by FIFA, and organised by Gianni Infantino himself, was almost finalised last week in Rabat, on the occasion of the meeting in a luxury hotel of the three candidates from West Africa, in company of two FIFA emissaries and leaders from Egypt and Morocco. But while it seems certain that two of the postulants, Augustin Senghor and Ahmed Yahya, have accepted the deal, Jacques Anouma’s decision is still uncertain. The March 12th election could therefore take on the appearance of a duel between billionaire Patrice Motsepe, the man of Gianni Infantino, and the Ivorian candidate backed by supporters of a CAF more independent of FIFA. The candidates are due to meet next weekend in Nouakchott, Mauritania, for the CAN Under-20 final. Another unknown: Ahmad Ahmad. The outgoing president was running for a second term, but was excluded from all football activity by the FIFA disciplinary committee. The Malagasy appealed to the CAS. The Swiss court’s decision is expected this week.