So far, only one African, Musa Bility of Liberia, has announced an intention to run for the post of FIFA President next February, but that could change soon. According to reports, South African businessman and diamond magnate, Tokyo Sexwale is considering a bid for presidency of football’s governing body.
Comments from Peter-Paul Ngwenya, a member of South African’s Global Watch foundation, suggest that Sexwale has been approached and encouraged to put his name forward. “Mr. Sexwale has been approached to put his name forward as a candidate for the FIFA presidency by several highly placed personalities within the football fraternity including people from the private sector,” Ngwenya said. “He is in the process of consulting following which he will then make up his mind.”
Sexwale, who has some prior experience with FIFA having served on an anti-discrimination task force, is a well-known South African businessman who, like Nelson Mandela, served jail time at Robben Island on charges of terrorism during the apartheid era. Sexwale, after his release in 1990, went on to serve as premier of Gauteng province under Mandela and as Minister of Human Settlements under Jacob Zuma until 2013. One of South Africa’s richest black men, Sexwale earned much of his wealth from his company Mvelaphanda Group which attempted a takeover of Telkom in 2008.
Ngwenya also suggests that Sexwale’s eventual decision will be announced only after deep consideration. “Sexwale is humbled and honoured by these approaches and does not regard these lightly as they emanate from people he respects and has confidence in. Furthermore he regards the position of FIFA president as one with a heavy responsibility, more so at this time when FIFA is under a cloud following the corruption scandal,” he said.
A potential bid by Sexwale for the FIFA presidency is already generating responses on social media. Sexwale has until October 26 to decide, as that is the deadline for announcements of bids. Should he eventually decide to run, he will be contesting against France’s Michel Platini, Liberia’s Musa Bility, Brazil’ Zico, South Korea’s Chung Mong-Joon and possibly Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan.