When launching his campaign manifesto for the CAF presidency last week, Patrice Motsepe said football must be run as a professional business and therefore the continent’s football controlling body needs to familiarise itself with the cornerstones of sound corporate governance practices.
“Potential sponsors are reluctant to invest in football if perceptions of unsound corporate governance and corruption prevail in the administration of the game,” Motsepe said at the launch in Sandton.
The core tenets of sound governance include responsibility, accountability, transparency and fairness. Sound corporate governance therefore provides one of the pillars for the on-field sporting success.
Africans have a passion for football and there are great business opportunities that can benefit governments on the continent, football sponsors, athletes and the general population.
But why is African football developing at a snail’s pace and why do teams on the continent have dismal showings in global competitions?
While apologists point to the lack of football infrastructure on the continent, insufficient sponsorships and they bemoan a lack of commitment from overseas-based players, the scum appears to lie perilously close to corrupt and incompetent administrators.
A damning report by the Forum of African Investigative Reporters (Fair) put the blame squarely on the shoulders of corrupt and inefficient administrators.
“While players have sacrificed their personal fortunes to develop not just soccer but their own communities and have in some cases bailed out their national teams, the administrators tasked with developing the game focus on personal gains,” Fair said.
The report also claimed that large amounts of sponsorship cash that CAF and the continents’ football federations hardly trickle down to the players and grassroots soccer development but ends up in the pockets of administrators.
There are substantial sums of money, coming from various sponsors and Fifa development projects, which have disappeared into administrators’ pockets.
Sport stands for good governance, respect for the rules, fair play, honesty and discipline. Yet football administration suffers from poor governance and unfair practices.
Motsepe’s candidature is what CAF needs right now if it intends tapping into the continent’s huge talent and passion for football. His track record in business and his involvement at Mamelodi Sundowns position him as a leader who is passionate about football.
He is prepared to invest a fortune in football and not compete for scarce financial resources with players and the sport’s development.
Indeed, Motsepe can “build African football to be the best in the world”.
However, he should be warned that football maladministration is a universal problem that is entrenched even at the Fifa headquarters in Switzerland. Solutions to these problems will remain elusive until Fifa gets serious about eradicating maladministration.
Fifa has a strict policy which red-cards governments that have attempted to enforce good governance in their associations. This has served to entrench maladministration and an untouchable mentality within the football fraternity.
Come March 12, it remains to be seen if associations will realise the value of electing Motsepe and elect him CAF president in Morocco.
- Khumalo is management consultant and former Boxing SA board member