Wednesday 20 September 2023, 09:45

FIFA President discusses football development with Lebanese delegation

  • Gianni Infantino and Najib Mikati hold talks on development opportunities in Lebanon

  • FIFA Forward investment recently helped renovate four stadiums in the country

  • Women’s football progressing fast and provides a focus for future development efforts

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has met with Lebanon’s President of the Council of Ministers, His Excellency Najib Mikati, to discuss the most recent football-related subjects in the country and plot a course for the future of the sport's continued development in the West Asian nation.

Geopolitics and women’s football were also major topics of conversation with both leaders  highlighting the beauty of Lebanon and the hardship endured by its citizens due to the ongoing liquidity crisis. It was agreed that FIFA and Lebanon would work closely in the future to use football as a vehicle for change.

Having endured financial difficulties across society since, Lebanon can now look to football for shoots of recovery. With the support of FIFA Forward funding, the Lebanese Football Association (LFA) was able to renovate four stadiums recently to re-build some welcome momentum behind the sport.

“Through the FIFA Forward programme, we have always worked with the LFA to uplift the infrastructure as well as increase the popularity of our sport there, and would continue to do so," explained Gianni Infantino in meetings on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly proceedings in New York.

The four stadiums, three of which are in or close to the capital, Beirut, with the fourth located in Zgharta, are used for domestic league and cup games, women’s and girl’s matches and other youth competitions.

Lebanon’s women’s national team currently lie 137th in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking and have not yet qualified for either a FIFA Women’s World Cup™ or the AFC Women’s Asian Cup. They did, however, finish runners-up at the 2022 West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Women’s Championship having come third in 2019, suggesting an historic first qualification for a senior international tournament is a real possibility. Girls football is flourishing too. Super Girls FC, founded in 2019 and the first girls’ football academy in South Lebanon, has helped bring through a crop of exciting young talent that formed the nucleus of the national squad that won the 2023 WAFF U-16 Girls Championship and looks set to reinforce the senior side in the coming years.

The FIFA President and the Prime Minister of Lebanon discussed the positive development of women’s football in the country, and agreed to jointly and actively support the continuation of its current upward trajectory as FIFA continues to work towards its goal of having 60 million women and girls playing the game by the end of 2026.

“We want to build on the momentum of the greatest ever FIFA Women’s World Cup hosted recently,” said Mr Infantino. “What we saw on the pitch during the tournament must be a source of real inspiration for girls and women around the world to play football, and that is also true for Lebanon. Working hand in hand with the government and the Lebanese Football Association, FIFA can and will help grow the women’s game in the country and across the region.”