FIFA’s President Gianni Infantino says he wants African football to match the quality and competitiveness in other continents.
Rabat – The International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) is ready to support African football to achieve world-class standards, announced FIFA’s President Gianni Infantino on Saturday, February 1.
Infantino made the announcement from the Mohammed VI football complex in Sale, where leading names in the football world met for a seminar on the development of football infrastructure in Africa.
The seminar, organized by FIFA, in collaboration with the Moroccan Royal Football Federation (FRMF) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF), aimed to discuss the future of African football in terms of infrastructure.
African football has great potential to move forward, said FRMF’s President Fouzi Lekjaa, after welcoming the participants.
“It is imperative to act without wasting more time, without slacking, and with determination and goodwill between each other. We have to take advantage of the knowledge; we have to move forward,” Lekjaa urged the attendees.
“Despite all the potential we have, we are often criticized for fragility, not to say underdevelopment,” deplored the Moroccan official.
Aware of the difficulties African football is faced with, Lekjaa was nevertheless optimistic about the future of the continent.
“Today, the context is more favorable than ever, especially since we have an exemplary relationship with FIFA, with a young president who admires Africa. The expectations are enormous, so we have to show the world that we are capable of meeting challenges,” he encouraged.
Pan-Africanism must guide African football
Meanwhile, CAF’s President Ahmad Ahmad expressed the confederation’s Pan-African ambitions, notably in terms of infrastructure.
“It is now essential that all African federations have stadiums that match the quality of their players and supporters,” insisted the Malagasy football administrator.
“We need to speed up the process to reach a world-class level. We can no longer go back. We have to participate in world competitions,” he continued.
To reach this goal, Ahmad encouraged African football federations to manage their infrastructure through public-private partnerships.
The African football leader also thanked his FIFA counterpart for his support.
“I am delighted that FIFA is fully participating in our infrastructure project. I thank Mr. Infantino for his support and collaboration, as well as the special attention he gives to African football,” he concluded.
€1 billion donation to build stadiums in Africa
Finally, FIFA’s president began his speech by congratulating Morocco on inaugurating the Mohammed VI football complex.
“It is a magnificent and sumptuous center that should be a source of pride not only for Morocco but for Africa. Visiting this complex fills me with energy and joy,” Infantino commended.
King Mohammed VI inaugurated the football complex on December 9, 2019.
The head of the global football organization then made a speech on the development of football in Africa.
“I think it is time to stop talking about the development of African football and to start taking action. What I want is to project African football into the world elite. No African team has won the World Cup yet, it gives the impression that Africa is losing ground,” he said.
According to Infantino, there are three areas of intervention: refereeing, infrastructure, and competitions.
“FIFA will donate €1 billion so that every African country can build a world-class stadium. As far as good governance is concerned, there is work to be done. We did it at FIFA and we are trying to do the same at CAF. We just started,” announced the Swiss-Italian administrator.
“Football enthusiasts in Africa expect a lot. You have to know that you manage their feelings and cannot disappoint them,” he added.
The FIFA president also made a proposal on the African Cup of Nations (CAN). For him, CAN should rather be played once every four years instead of two years, in order to make it more commercially viable and attractive on a global scale.
“The CAN currently generates 20 times less than the European Nations League. In terms of infrastructure, I have never not seen modern stadiums in my travels, [until my visit to Africa]. We must not wait for a CAN to build a stadium, we must do it to help Africa,” concluded Infantino.