JOHANNESBURG - The election of Patrice Motsepe as the eighth president of CAF (Confederation of African Football) in Rabat, Morocco on Friday, marked a personal triumph for the president of Safa (South Football Association) Danny Jordaan.
A highly relieved Jordaan told Independent Newspapers shortly after the elections had run its course at CAF's 43rd General Assembly that Motsepe had bucked the trend because, for the first time, the president was not an official of a federation.
“Up to now all seven of the previous CAF presidents had headed up their country's national federations,” said Jordaan. “Motsepe did not go that route, and he broke the mould of presidents presiding over the national controlling body.
“It will always be remembered as a special day in the annals of Safa because never before has a CAF president been chosen from its ranks,” Jordaan remarked. “This event is right up there with our Fifa World Cup hosting because we did the country proud.
“Now Safa has given African football a leader, a trailblazer in every sense of the word. His election is unique, and Safa can be proud that their nomination became the winner.”
It was Jordaan who first pondered the thought of Motsepe becoming the President of CAF. After that, he broached the subject with several people in the football fraternity, including Nathi Mthethwa, the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture.
“The idea took people by surprise because Motsepe had never occupied positions in the structure of national football. This was usually the prerequisite when looking to nominate persons for the President of CAF,” said Jordaan.
“Once all my fellow countrymen agreed, we assembled a team to campaign in several countries in Africa,” said Jordaan. “At first, there were officials from several countries who have never heard of Patrice Motsepe. He was immediately written off.
“It was said he was not a President of a federation and he was not known in CAF. After some convincing and once his credentials became known, there was general approval.”
On the eve of the elections, Jordaan was still anxious, fearing the unexpected. He said repeatedly to himself “what if” as he considered what could derail the elections.
“There was a standing ovation when Motsepe was announced as the new president of CAF,” said Jordaan. “It was the confirmation that for the first time in many years we felt a strong feeling of unity in the ranks of CAF. It also reflected the broad base of support for him. He has promised to visit every one of CAF's 54 member countries and engage with the football leadership, the corporate and government organizations.”
Fifa President Gianni Infantino also added his congratulations. He also applauded officials who withdrew from the elections, so that they could support Motsepe. He said it helped to set up a solid front for unity in CAF.
“I would like to congratulate Patrice Motsepe for his wisdom, his engagement, for his passion,” said Infantino.
“You all want a strong and united Africa, projecting itself forward. It is thanks to you, it is your decision, your wish, your hope and your ambition.”