By Samindra Kunti
March 16 – New CAF president Patrice Motsepe has said he needs new secretary-general Veron Mosengo-Omba in his team “to hit the ground running”, even if the South African offered little detail on how he will tackle some of CAF’s pressing, existential problems.
In a move seen to tighten FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s grip on Africa even more, the Swiss-Congolese was parachuted in from Zurich to become the African body’s new secretary-general just hours after the South African’s coronation in Rabat, but in a news conference on Tuesday Motsepe defended why the Zurich foot soldier has taken up the role.
“In Veron, we have world-class material,” said Motsepe when asked to expand on his choice for CAF’s new secretary-general. “He said to me: ‘I want to make a contribution.’ I need results, I need someone who can hit the ground running. When I mention Veron’s name in the presence of all those presidents, they were so excited. Here is a son of the DRC, the country of Patrice Lumumba. We are deeply privileged to have Veron.”
Veron, who has left his position as chief officer of FIFA’s Member Associations division with immediate effect, replaces Morocco’s Abdel Bah at CAF. In 2019, FIFA sent its secretary-general Fatma Samoura to Cairo to clean up CAF, but she returned to HQ in Zurich after CAF’s executive committee refused to extend her mandate after a term that they felt had needlessly see FIFA’s interference in their affairs grow, and included the world federation’s decision to ‘centralise’ all national team TV rights.
With CAF’s finances in dire straits following the disastrous reign of the organisation’s previous president Ahmad Ahmad, those TV rights and monetising CAF’s products with broadcasters is now high on Motsepe’s agenda. Between 2019 and 2020, CAF suffered a loss $40 million in its reserves. The new CAF president said he would use the “skills and expertise” of Irving Khoza, the chairman of South Africa Premier Soccer League (PSL) to help redress the broadcast rights balance.
South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan put his finger on the problem in part. Jordaan said: “CAF reported a financial loss for the second consecutive financial year, first of $6.8 million in 2019 and in 2020 a loss of $11.4 million. It clearly indicated to us that there is a decline in the financial fortunes of CAF. What stands out is that CAF has lost all its TV revenues. When you watch Mamelodi or TP Mazembe, it won’t be on any of the African broadcasters. That was a revenue of over $200 million that was lost to African football. It is the only continent in the world where the broadcasters are not televising its matches.”
Motsepe confirmed that the Africa Cup of Nations, one of CAF’s flagship events and products, will for now still be played on a bi-annual basis.
“This is one area where there were different views among different people,” said Motsepe. “But it has to be every two years, there is no doubt about that. African football needs partners and you need partners who can make things happen, who will be with us on the ground, in this practical, tangible assessable manner and make a difference in Africa. I am absolutely committed to work with Infantino – his passion and commitment for African football, his partnership to make it succeed. He is my brother.”
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1618297463labto1618297463ofdlr1618297463owedi1618297463sni@o1618297463fni1618297463