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Six challenges facing new African football boss Motsepe

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President of the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA) Gianni Infantino (2-L) and the president of the CAF Patrice Motsepe (R) arrive at the 43rd CAF General Assembly, on March 12, 2021, in the Moroccan capital Rabat. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP)

New Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe inherits a troubled organisation. AFP Sport lists six of the challenges he faces following his election on Friday:

Corruption
The public image of CAF has taken a battering in recent years amid numerous allegations of corruption, some of which were proven in a FIFA probe and led to the banning of former president Ahmad Ahmad.

What must concern Motsepe is that shortly before the ban, 46 of the 54 African national football associations publicly backed the Malagasy official for a second four-year term.

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Charges which led to the downfall of Ahmad included the “misappropriation of funds”, “abuse of power” and “offering and accepting gifts or other benefits”.

Governance
A recent Pricewaterhouse Cooper forensic audit, complicated by CAF making many payments in cash, painted a picture of financial and governance disarray.

Its accounting was described as “unreliable and untrustworthy” with many transactions having “little or no supporting documentation”.

The departments at the Cairo headquarters were said to be “understaffed” with staff “overworked and generally demotivated”.

TV blackout
Johannesburg-based SuperSport, the main English language broadcasters of African football, have not screened matches since late 2019 because of a contract dispute.

The blackout affected the recent African Nations Championship in Cameroon, 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and the 2020 CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup competitions.

Former African Footballer of the Year and Zambia star Kalusha Bwalya says: “The biggest challenges facing Motsepe are uniting CAF and sorting out the TV issue.”

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Communications
Entering the CAF website (www.cafonline.com) offers little assistance to those seeking the latest African football news.

Click on ‘Competitions/World Cup 2022’ and there are fixtures, venues and referees for qualifiers played in September 2019, but no results, goal scorers or times of goals from those matches.

The draw for the second qualifying round was made on January 21, 2020 with the first matches scheduled for this May, but there are no details of the draw or fixtures.

Referees
Allegations of biased and incompetent refereeing of CAF club and national team fixtures have been part of the African football tapestry for decades.

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As TV coverage grows and more cameras are used, the problem has become more obvious in a continent where VAR is rarely used.

Aware of the problem, FIFA president Gianni Infantino favours an elite panel of full-time African referees paid by the world governing body.

Prize money
Many clubs lose money competing in CAF competitions, where prize money kicks in only after two (Champions League) or three (Confederation Cup) qualifying rounds.

Even teams that go all the way and pocket the Champions League first prize of $2.5 million (2.1 million euros) say they lose out with half the money needed for player bonuses.

“It is a ridiculous situation that owners of clubs who win trophies have to dig into their own pockets to balance the books,” says Infantino.

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