Who Are The Influencers Of South African Football?

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  • Post published:June 10, 2024

Who are the movers and shakers in South African football whose decisions and words influence the future of the game? By Mark Gleeson.

South African football is the biggest sporting industry in South Africa, mainly predicated on the television deal it has with DStv but also because of all the other economic activity around it.

Overall, the sports industry is said to contribute more or less R50 billion to the country’s economy per annum and is responsible for the employment of more than 500 000 people in South Africa.

Powerful men and women sit at the head of this industry, making the key decisions that dictate the course of the domestic game. Overall, the sports industry is said to contribute more or less R50 billion to the country’s economy per annum and is responsible for the employment of more than 500 000 people in South Africa. But just who are the 10 most powerful persons at work in South African football?

The mining magnate, who was a lawyer when he began his career, bought his way into Mamelodi Sundowns some 20 years ago now and has since dramatically changed the landscape of the South African game. His deep pockets have turned the Brazilians into a behemoth and tipped the traditional order away from Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, who no longer have sway over the country’s best players. He has since been elevated to the boss of the Confederation of African Football.

He has had to formally give up the presidency of the club but is still very much running matters behind the scenes, with all major decisions, especially transfers, going through him. He now calls Sundowns “the family business”.

As CAF president he now has a seat at the high table of the game, as he is automatically a FIFA vice president. It was FIFA president Gianni Infantino who moved to install him, seeking an alternate to a string of corruptiontainted African football-federation presidents itching to stick their snouts into the money trough. Motsepe is so extraordinarily wealthy that he does not take a cent for his CAF work and pays all his own travel bills.


The chair of the Premier Soccer League has held powerful sway over the professional game for more than 20 years. He is widely feared by club bosses and although PSL meetings can often descend into lively arguments, few ever dare to cross him. Many believe without him, sponsorship would wane although, to be fair, the league always had a full bouquet of sponsors decades before he took over as chair. Now 76 years old, he is still at the office daily, but rarely at games. Khoza started out as security and then club secretary before taking over the reins of an ailing Pirates in the early 90s, controversially turning a community organisation into a private company. He was also the chair of the 2010 World Cup organising committee.


Formerly the boss at SuperSport, then Multichoice, and now right near the top of the television business, it was Patel who did the deal with Khoza to take the television rights away from the SABC in 2007 and move them to SuperSport instead. His company paid over R1 billion to the PSL for a renewal of these rights, effectively making him the game’s paymaster.


Although rapidly handing over power at his club to his children and taking a back seat, Motaung’s opinions are still highly valued and any initiative still needs his buy-in. His club remain by far the best supported in the country and attract the most sponsorship, but he will be mightily concerned that they are rapidly losing that position after nine seasons without a trophy.


As president of the South African Football Association he is vital to the sport’s ecosystem, although his own power and influence are waning in the wake of scandal. It is a long way from his glory days as the man who delivered a successful 2010 World Cup. There is much jostling in the ranks to line up to be the next president, but Jordaan has hinted he will stand again for yet another term.


The Vodacom CEO has been intimately involved in the lucrative sponsorship deals for both Chiefs and Pirates and as boss of one of the country’s largest corporations – and biggest sponsor of sport in the country – he wields enormous influence, even if his direct involvement, or interest, in the game is limited.


The Pretoria-based player agent, or intermediatory, as they are called these days, has 14 players at champions Sundowns alone, which means he has been party to most of the major deals that have gone down in the country in recent seasons. He began his career in the game as the team manager of the Bafana Bafana squad that won the 1996 Cup of Nations finals.


The prosecutor of the PSL has the task of keeping all the clubs honest and ensuring discipline is maintained. More importantly, he must ensure a sense of fair play and that the rules apply to all. It is his second spell as prosecutor, but he is a lot more lenient these days than he was when he first started out.


Media influence on the game has waned with the death of print so it is SuperSport who now set the agenda and Mlambo who influences all the relevant debates. He returned to the channel after a decade-long stay at the SABC and immediately took over all the major shows on SS2.

Photo by Djaffar Ladjal/BackpagePix