South African candidate for CAF’s presidency Patrice Motsepe promises not to harm Morocco’s interests
Rabat – The Confederation of African Football (CAF) will not become a battleground for political issues such as the Western Sahara issue. CAF Presidential Candidate Patrice Motsepe promised to not harm Morocco’s interests if elected president of African football’s governing body.
Patrice Motsepe is a businessman from South Africa, a key geopolitical rival to Morocco on the African continent. Despite the deep-rooted rift between Morocco and his country, Motsepe is pleading that Africa’s political battle over influence between the continent’s largest countries not become an issue on continental football pitches.
South Africa is one of the key challengers of Morocco’s claims over Western Sahara. The geopolitical issue has become central in Morocco’s continental rivals’ goals of limiting Moroccan influence by keeping its diplomatic core occupied with the Western Sahara political stalemate.
As he campaigns to replace Ethiopia’s Ahmad Ahmad as CAf president, Motsepe is adamant that this geopolitical rivalry over Western Sahara will not reach Africa’s hallowed footballing body.
Motsepe’s declaration comes as a sigh of relief for many in Morocco.
Most Moroccan officials and commentators had understandably feared that with a South-African set to take the presidency, Africa’s football competition could soon become yet another place for anti-Moroccan activism. The issue became a focus for Morocco’s diplomats as even the country’s foreign affairs minister got involved.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Nasser Bourita had raised the issue during this week’s visit of FIFA president Gianni Infantino to Morocco. Bourita spoke to Infantino about the need for continental football to stay free of contentious politics.
South Africa and Algeria both support the Polisario Front, a militant group that opposes Morocco and seeks independence in the country’s southern provinces, Western Sahara.
With the Algeria-South Africa axis having been at the height of their pro-Polisario diplomatic activism in recent weeks, some believe the two countries could promote a CAF seat for Polisario’s self-declared state in Western Sahara.
But Potential CAF President Patrice Motsepe appears to have cleared up the issue by promising not to harm Morocco’s political interests during his reign.