African Billionaires Elevate Football to New Heights

Afaf Fahchouch
Afaf Fahchouch
4 Min Read
African Billionaires Elevate Football to New Heights

Football in Africa is not just a game, it’s a phenomenon that has transcended into a lucrative business, attracting some of the continent’s wealthiest individuals. Notable among them are Patrice Motsepe of South Africa and Mohammed Dewji of Tanzania, both featuring on the 2024 Forbes list of Africa’s top 20 billionaires. While their wealth has primarily been amassed outside the realm of football, their recent forays into the sport are indicative of a strategic investment rather than mere philanthropy.

Patrice Motsepe, the current President of the Confederation of African Football (Caf), boasts a net worth of $2.7 billion. Motsepe, who owns the Mamelodi Sundowns club, has been a vocal proponent of African football development. Under his ownership, Sundowns has become a continental powerhouse, winning the Caf Champions League title in 2016 and dominating South African football. With 11 Sundowns players representing South Africa in the Afcon tournament, Motsepe’s influence extends beyond club borders.

Tanzania’s youngest billionaire, Mohammed Dewji, follows closely on the Forbes list in the 12th position with a net worth that places him among Africa’s elite. As the majority shareholder of Simba SC, a football giant in East Africa, Dewji has transformed the club into a formidable force in continental competitions. Despite being the head of Tanzania’s largest private employer, the MeTL Group, Dewji’s commitment to Simba SC underscores his dedication to elevating African football globally.

Both Motsepe and Dewji have actively advocated for the advancement of African football. Motsepe’s influence led to initiatives like the Africa Football League (AFL), a collaborative project aimed at raising the standards of the game across the continent. Sundowns’ victory in the AFL’s debut season showcased Motsepe’s financial commitment and ability to attract elite players.

The landscape of African football is undergoing a transformation, fueled by influential figures like Motsepe and Dewji. Despite historical issues of mismanagement and corruption in African football, the injection of discipline and strategic investment from wealthy individuals could reshape the sport. Observers believe that these billionaires, having made their fortunes elsewhere, are well-positioned to instill financial discipline in African football.

Nqobile Ndlovu of Cash ‘N Sport, a sports finance expert platform, notes that Motsepe and Dewji’s impact is already redefining future events. Caf’s revenue has seen stability and growth, propelled by high-value TV rights deals. Commercial revenue for 2022 reached $125.2 million, a 17 percent increase from the previous year. Sponsorship and television rights played a significant role in this growth, setting Caf on a path to financial recovery.

Afcon, sponsored by TotalEnergies, has attracted major broadcasters like Sky Sports, alongside sponsors such as Visa and 1XBet. Caf’s recent mandate for clubs to include women’s sides and the establishment of the Women’s Champions League, coupled with increased prize money, reflects a commitment to gender inclusivity and financial sustainability.

Motsepe’s vision of making African football self-reliant aligns with a broader goal of ending the tradition of seeking handouts from donors. As African billionaires continue to shape the football landscape, the sport’s future looks poised for unprecedented growth and financial stability.


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