WHAT initially started as the fiercest race for the presidency of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has evolved into a peace treaty among the candidates vying for the position.
This is anticipated to result in unity among the rivals and the betterment of the beautiful game in the largest confederation affiliated to the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA).
The race that was initially among four candidates thus could culminate in South African businessman and club owner, Patrice Motsepe, emerging as the new CAF president.
The elections for the presidency are set for Rabat, Morocco on March 12.
Coincidentally, the Moroccan capital city has been the scene of a peace treaty among the contenders for the race to succeed disgraced Madagascan, Ahmad Ahmad, as the CAF president.
Besides Mamelodi Sundowns owner Motsepe, other aspirants are Jacques Anouma (Ivory Coast), Senegalese Augustin Senghor and Ahmad Yahya from Mauritania.
Fouzi Lekjaa, the president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), has brokered the accord uniting the contenders.
He recently invited the four candidates and encouraged them to pledge unity instead of further widening divisions triggered by the battle for votes.
Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, has also been preaching unity among football leaders during his tour of several African countries.
The CAF president is automatically a deputy to the FIFA leader.
Sources close to the CAF presidential race confirmed that an agreement was settled and a document signed according to which the other candidates will support Motsepe.
Senghor and Yahya would be his deputies while Anouma would be the presidential advisor.
This arrangement would be unprecedented.
Sources said Motsepe had emerged as the favourite for FIFA because of his untainted record and the fact that he has no links to the old management of CAF.
“Patrice Motsepe is a man of word, principles and high moral standards,” a president of a sub-Saharan African football federation has been quoted as saying.
“He (Motsepe) would never be in anyone’s service except for the 54 federations who compose CAF. He has a solid plan to bring CAF to the top of football world,” the federation president said.
There is also belief that since he (Motsepe) is already wealthy, the billionaire businessman of Tswana descent is not aiming to enrich himself through the presidency of CAF.
“He decided to commit his time and efforts to this when he doesn’t need money or recognition. He does it for pure love of football and Africa,” the senior official said.
A president of a North African Federation was quoted as saying the presence of Senghor and Yahya as Vice-Presidents ensured that a truly pan-African view was taken into account.
“They have the experience and were inside CAF so (they) know what needs to be changed fast in order to get us on the right track”, said the federation leader.
Last week, Motsepe launched his ten-point Action Plan manifesto, called Building African Football to be Best in the World.
He said investing in developing and growing football in each African country and building partnerships and sponsorships with the private sector as well as other potential partners formed the basis of his blueprint.