By Lunga Kupiso
Monday, the 29th of February 2016, marked the 1st official day in office for the newly elected FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, replacing the scandal-wrecked Joseph “Sepp” Blatter. Infantino won the votes of member associations at the special congress held in Zurich on the second ballot of votes after failing to win the first round of voting by majority, as stipulated in the FIFA elections guidelines.
Africa’s very own, Tokyo Sexwale, announced that he would run for presidency of the world’s football governing body, but was immediately met with disapproval, which had a lot of people questioning his credentials, and whether or not they were reputable enough to run one of the biggest organisations in the world. Even though the South African Football Association (SAFA) offered him support, certain members of the association advised the former anti-apartheid activist and 2010 FIFA World Cup LOC member, not to run.
Soon thereafter, African footballing leaders from around the continent publicly spoke up against Sexwale. The last nail in the coffin came shortly before the elections in Zurich, which was publically announced by the CAF, that the organisation would not be supporting him but rather Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Hussein. In his speech shortly before the elections, Sexwale reiterated that football was not broken but rather the leadership needed to be transformed for the better.
As Sexwale announced that he would be stepping down from the race for FIFA Presidency because he believed he was “a candidate for unity” and not the resentment brought by elections. A decision we ought to respect and take our hats off to, because in his very own words, he took a decision that will grow football and the strides taken by FIFA moving forward. Not many candidates would continue to serve having lost an election and it remains to be seen where the other candidates will get involved and what exactly that involvement will be now that they lost the race to Infantino.
Sexwale however, committed himself to be of service to FIFA, under the leadership of the new president. “I am ready to serve”, he said and believes that he can still effectively change the way football business is conducted albeit not at the helm of FIFA. According to Sexwale, he still wants to get his hands dirty with work on the ground and not smile for the cameras at conferences.
Mr Sexwale, you are a hero in the eyes of the African child, we salute you.