As the result of the FIFA presidency for the period 2013 to 2016 make the rounds. I thought I would drop this just to help to clear the confusion, before the lazy pundit starts with his incoherent diatribe. Gianni Infantino was elected FIFA President on 26 February 2016 for a period of 3 years from 2016 to 2019, and the lazy pundit will have you think that this was a loss for Tokyo Sexwale, or Africa.
The question is, is it?
Well Tokyo Sexwale withdrew from the FIFA presidential campaign just minutes before the first round of voting. “My campaign is suspended as of now.” These were the words to the FIFA congress at the end of his final lobbying speech. His withdrawal left Gianni Infantino, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein and Jerome Champagne in the first round of voting.
Voting went to a second ballot after no candidate earned the required two-thirds majority of votes in the initial voting process. Infantino was then elected in the second round of voting with 115 of the 207 votes from FIFA’s national associations, defeating Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who had 88. Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan retained four votes, and former FIFA executive Jerome Champagne of France had none.
Now! The lazy pundit has been saying that Tokyo Sexwale’s campaign was weak because he did not spend enough time with African football leaders. In fact they have also said that Tokyo Sexwale’s campaign was dead in the water simply because “he is not a football person.” Therefore on the 05 of February when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) publicly offered support to Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, the decision was used as confirmation of the lazy pundit’s doubt over Sexwale so-called “underwhelming campaign.”
Or was it?
The fact is this, even though CAF announced their support for Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, member associations did not have to vote for him; and Sexwale knew this. In fact he knew exactly how many of those associations were going to vote to him. Therefore, armed with the knowledge that CAF was not behind him, he arranged the trip to Robben Islands with Infantino just four days before the election in order to announce to his supporters, that he had now forged an alliance with Infantino. Therefore, when Sexwale announced that he is dropping out of the race, he was actually splitting the African vote. Because if you left your country with a mandate to vote Sexwale, then as soon as he dropped out of the race, then you had to vote Infantino.
So you see, the lazy pundit will have you think that Tokyo Sexwale’s campaign was weak. But in actual fact his support was enough to swing the vote into an overwhelming trouncing of the CAF preferred candidate.
Now let us assume that Sexwale’s move was done in exchange for a position in the executive, and I think that is a very plausible assumption. People like Sexwale do not help people because they are nice. They are successful politicians and tycoons, because they are shrewd. Therefore this gesture and tactic would have been reciprocated with a reward of similar magnitude. So let’s just assume that the move is agreed to be rewarded with a position on the executive.
As Africans we have to ask ourselves, will Africa’s interests be served with a high ranking Sexwale or not? The lazy pundit would like to convince you, without an African president African interests will not be served. But what they forget is that when CAF made the decision to back Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, they were basically saying that they don’t think FIFA needs an African president to champion Africa’s course.
The other question we need to ask ourselves is, if CAF were convinced that their decision to back Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa was the proverbial nail in Sexwale’s coffin. What does this result say about unity inside CAF? What does the result say about the loyalty of associations to the Mother body as opposed to doing what is right? To be honest it does present a conundrum of sorts, does it not? There were enough member association who decided to do “what is right” and go against the wishes of their Mother-body, to vote for and Africa and swing the vote. But when they had the opportunity to end Issa Hayatou’s reign, they facilitated a longer indefinite stay.
In lieu of this argument the lazy pundit will either want to argue that Tokwo Sexwale is the “biggest loser” for going that far and then dropping out. Or that he sold Africa out to Europe for his personal benefit – i.e. a high ranking position. The bottom line is, whether his decision will benefit Africa or not, is a speculation best left to the currency of time.
But as people board flights out of Zurich with tails between their legs, and others have a party. Gianni Infantino’s successful presidential campaign serves to amplify one major statement, and that is “CAF, you thought you have power. Look at you!” And as the lazy pundit, tries to convince you that Sexwale is the biggest loser. Try to remember that in reality, it is CAF who is “the biggest loser.”
The tempest prognosticator
Themba A Dikgale