“When it comes to African football I’m very optimistic from what I’ve seen. For me, it has been, from the beginning one of the priorities.”
So says Fifa President Gianni Infantino, successor to Sepp Blatter and in the role for a year now, when he was in Zimbabwe recently as part of his African tour. Planet Sport Football Africa producer Steve Vickers (who’s based in Harare) had the opportunity to ask him about his vision for African football, leading Infantino to list a number of positive developments.
First he mentioned Fatma Samoura from Senegal who was appointed to the position of Fifa Secretary General last year saying she “has international experience and experience in development programmes in general which will help the football development.”
He then went on to mention the Fifa Council, which shapes the sport around the world. “We have increased the number of members from Africa in the Fifa Council from four to seven . . . This gives more voice and more inclusion to the African membership.” Another increase on the horizon is the number of teams participating in the World Cup™. Currently Africa has five teams but with the final number still to be decided upon, it is clear that come 2026 it will be more than they have now.
Most significantly is the increase in financial investment that Fifa is making in African football, from $27 million a year to $94 million a year, for football projects in African Football Associations. Investment available to each Federation has increased five-fold from $250,000 a year to $1,250,000 a year.
Infantino finished by saying: “I’m really convinced that when I see the passion that there is in this continent for football, if we manage to put some structures and channelling a little bit of this passion, with a little bit of work and goodwill, the results will be fantastic. And we are already seeing some of that.”
To hear Solomon Ashoms, Planet Sport Football Africa football analyst, consider whether Infantino will be good for African football, and FIfa Secretary General Fatma Samoura speak about developing women’s football in Africa, listen to Planet sport Football Africa programme 10th March 2017: