Friday 11 January 2019, 07:18

FIFA President concludes African tour in Burkina Faso

Yesterday, following a visit to Benin, the FIFA President, CAF Vice President Constant Omari, the FIFA Secretary General, FIFA Member Associations and Development Director for Africa and the Caribbean Region Véron Mosengo-Omba, Development Manager at the FIFA Regional Office for West and Central Africa El Hadj Wack Diop and members of the FIFA administration travelled to Burkina Faso.

Upon arrival, the FIFA delegation made its way to the Kosyam Palace, the official residence of the President of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. Once there, they had a relaxed meeting with President Kaboré, facilitated by Burkinabe Minister of Sport and Recreation Daouda Azoupiou.

Presidents speak Taking the floor, the President of Burkina Faso welcomed the high-level delegation from FIFA, led by Gianni Infantino. President Kaboré said: “As far as I know this is the first-ever visit of a FIFA President to Burkina Faso and we take great pride in it, as it is testament to the trust that Mr. Infantino has in the football governance of our country."

"As a football fan and a political leader, I am well aware of the power of football and that winning a match can change the mindset of the whole country. My government is working very closely with the Burkina Faso Football Association (FBF) to consolidate the game of football and position it strongly within our nation.”

Speaking about his impressions of Burkina Faso, the FIFA President said: “The first time I visited Burkina Faso was in 1998. I wasn’t in the football industry back then; I was just a football fan who wanted to 'live' football in Africa. Having been fascinated by the performances of Cameroon during the 1982 FIFA World Cup, I wanted to experience that special something that comes with African football, and the Africa Cup of Nations 1998 offered me the opportunity to do just that. I won’t talk about the score that day and you all know why, but that special feeling is something that I’ll never forget."

"Being here today for the second time in my life, you cannot imagine how emotional I am. Football is the only sport in the world that can trigger this kind of emotion and it’s our duty as football lovers to nourish and preserve the unrivalled well-being that football can give for generations to come. I commend President Kaboré for his unwavering support for the game, which brings joy to so many people, and for his multifaceted contributions to the development of football.”

A stronger African voice In addition, the FIFA President thanked the FBF’s leadership for sharing this passion for football through their actions and not just their words stating: “If there is one individual who embodies the growth of football in Burkina Faso today, it's [FBF] President Sita Sangaré.”

President Sangaré then paid tribute to Infantino for giving Africa a much stronger voice within the governance of world football by increasing not only the number of African teams at the FIFA World Cup™, but also the number of African representatives on the FIFA Council and committees, as well as keeping his promise to put African football at the centre of his priorities. He expressed his delight that Infantino had appointed “an African sister at the helm of the FIFA administration and an African brother as Member Associations Development Director for Africa and the Caribbean Region”. He signed off by saying: “Gianni, you can count on our full support to continue your laudable mission at the head of FIFA.”

CAF Vice President Constant Omari echoed Sangaré’s praise for the FIFA President and complimented Infantino on his love of Africa and his determination to go the extra mile and take African football to the highest level.

The FIFA delegation then travelled to the headquarters of the FBF, where discussions took place with a varied group of stakeholders from the Burkina Faso football scene. These included members of the FBF Executive Committee and Burkinabe Minister of Sport and Recreation Daouda Azoupiou, who gave Infantino an insight into a project aiming to revitalise youth football in the country.

Solar success story After the meeting, the FIFA President was invited to officially inaugurate the new solar-powered floodlights pilot project at the stadium of local club Étoile Filante de Ouagadougou.

Speaking after the event, Infantino said: “The inauguration of the solar panel system at this stadium is a dream come true. When I was informed about the conditions under which football was being played in Burkina Faso three years ago, I thought about having a cost-saving energy system tested in this country, the first African country I ever visited. My wish is to have this project rolled out in all countries confronted with high energy costs and harsh weather conditions to allow millions of boys and girls to enjoy playing in safer conditions.”

Following the inauguration, a press conference took place followed by a dinner hosted by the FBF President before the delegation departed.