Fifa president Gianni Infantino wants to boost football development in Africa.
The Swiss-Italian has committed to producing tailor-made projects that meet the specific needs of all the global football body’s 211 member countries.
He said the two-day summit he hosted at the Sandton Convention Centre on Tuesday and Wednesday‚ involving heads of associations from Africa‚ Asia and Europe‚ had served as part of the process to identify such needs.
Speaking at a function to welcome the Fifa president at the Nelson Mandela Foundation this week‚ Infantino said: “These meetings in Johannesburg involve‚ for the first time in the history of Fifa‚ bringing together member associations from‚ in this case‚ Europe‚ Asia and Africa.
“They sit together in groups of five and speak about the development of football.
“The purpose‚ and there will be other meetings in other parts of the world‚ is to bring together the top executives of all the 211 member countries‚ and discuss how we want to move football forward with the new development programme.
“But also to create bridges between these members.
“So when you have Europeans coming here and hearing the African issues and problems‚ and those of the Asians‚ this brings a lot of positivity to the future development of football.
“We’ve had around 45 member association presidents in Johannesburg.”
Infantino said his plan was for Fifa to establish projects that meet the specific requirements of each member country.
He said he hopes to boost development in Africa to make countries from that continent more competitive.
“I’m travelling now‚ and have been since I became Fifa president [in February 2016].
“I have been to about 10 African countries and will go to about six more on this trip‚ ” Infantino said.
“But you can be sure that on a country by country basis we will develop the necessary projects‚ and they will be tailor-made.
“And this is also a difference.
“It is not something proposed by some Swiss guy in Zurich.
“It is something that will be tailor-made according to the needs.
“What I have seen in Africa is the true passion for football that exists.
“Everyone is playing in the streets or on improvised pitches.
“And this is something that in Europe we are starting to lose.
“Now if we can channel this passion with some infrastructure and professionalism‚ the jump would be bigger.
“For this reason we have also decided to increase the number of members from Africa on the Fifa council from four to seven.
“We have decided to increase the number of teams in the World Cup.
“There were five representatives from Africa but not any more.
“There could be eight‚ nine or 10 – we will still have a discussion.
“We have also decided to multiply by four the money we are investing in football development and of course a big part of that is going into the African continent.”
Infantino’s visit to the Mandela Foundation in Houghton was attended by former president Kgalema Motlanthe‚ former human settlements minister Tokyo Sexwale‚ Fifa secretary-general Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura and Premier Soccer League chairman Irvin Khoza. — search regex