Liberia Football Association (LFA) President Mustapha Raji was on Friday, March 12, elected as an Executive Committee member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for the West African Football Union (WAFU) Zone ‘A’ slot during CAF’s 43rd Ordinary and Elective General Assembly in Rabat, Morocco.
Although it was predicted to be a tough election after Raji’s opponent, Antoine Souare, was declared eligible to contest on the eve of the assembly, President Raji comfortably defeated Mr. Souare, President of the Guinean Football Federation, 37 to 14 votes out of the 51 Member Associations that cast their votes.
“Dear presidents, EC members and stakeholders, thanks for supporting and standing up for Liberia. We will remain committed to defend our flag out there,” Raji said in a dispatch from Morocco. “I followed your warm and enthusiastic messages ahead of a tough electoral process. My name was on the ballot but it was more about Liberia. And that is why you supported me.”
Raji became the third Liberian to be elected to the post after Marcel Bertin and Musa Hassan Bility.
President Weah, Others Congratulate Raji
Since his election to the post, Raji has continued to receive numerous congratulatory messages from prominent football stakeholders, including Chief Patron of Sports, President George Weah, who in a telephone conversation, said Raji’s election is a “monumental achievement” for Raji and Liberia. He urged Raji to remain humble and keep his head above the water as he steers the affairs of the LFA and African football, a release from the LFA said.
Youth and Sports Minister D. Zoegar Wilson expressed his delight at the election of Mr. Raji at the level of CAF and urged Liberians to see his ascendancy as a great inspiration to upkeep football in Liberia.
Patrice Motsepe Elected CAF President
Before the election of Executive Committee Members at the Assembly, South Africa’s Patrice Motsepe was elected as the eighth president of CAF. Motsepe was elected unopposed following the withdrawals of Senegal’s Augustin Senghor, Mauritania’s Ahmed Yahya, Ivory Coast’s Jacques Anouma.
Addressing delegates at the Assembly, President Motsepe said Africans should set their eyes on making African football not only competitive but a dominant player in global sport. He said there is a need to create a culture of success on and off the field in African football. To achieve this goal, he believes there is a lot of work that needs to be done in improving the image of CAF and restoring the brand.
“I’m very excited. There is a great deal of urgency in getting things done. There is going to be a lot of work and a lot of running. We have to make sure that African football is not just competitive but globally successful. Africa spends millions of dollars every year paying for tv rights of leagues outside Africa. There is a need to build our own products and we will succeed.
“The face of African football will never be the same again. 95% of our conversations will be about football and that is fine but there must be that 5% where we discuss the importance of the private sector partnerships. We need to restore the pride, the dignity and the respect of Africa.”
FIFA President praises African “team spirit”
For his part, FIFA President Gianni Infantino in his address to the Assembly stressed the importance of “team spirit” to project African football to the top of the world.
“We know the values of football, but the most important value is team spirit. This is the team spirit that we have witnessed these days in Africa.”
Referring to the future of African football, the FIFA President said: “I have already said it, and I say it again. We must stop saying that it is necessary to develop African football. It is about projecting it to the summit of world football.
“The time for talking has stopped. We must move on, and we must move on as a team: as a CAF team and a FIFA team that also includes all the confederations and associations from all over the world. You are CAF. You are FIFA.”