Saturday 29 July 2023, 10:00

FIFA President discusses ways of developing football during visit to American Samoa

  • Gianni Infantino said there are neither big nor small member associations in FIFA

  • FFAS President Alex Godinet thanked Gianni Infantino for the visit

  • Lieutenant Governor said FIFA support would help develop and promote the game

Gianni Infantino has visited American Samoa and discussed ways in which FIFA can help the Pacific Islands country improve its facilities and develop football. As announced at the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Congress on 19 July, the FIFA President is visiting a number of member associations in the region so he can see at first hand the projects supported by FIFA Forward, which is playing an important role in developing football in the region.

The FIFA President met American Samoa Lieutenant Governor Talauega Eleasalo Va'alele Ale and the President of Football Federation American Samoa (FFAS) Alex Godinet at the National Legislature and visited the FFAS headquarters. Senior Football Advisor and FIFA World Cup 1998™ winner Youri Djorkaeff, FIFA Legend Houssine Kharja and Deputy General Secretary – Football, Mattias Grafström, were also part of the FIFA delegation.

“We are here, of course, to help develop the game, but as well to invest in the game,” said the FIFA President. “For us, American Samoa is one of our 211 member associations. There are no big and no small countries in FIFA.” He added that the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™, currently taking place in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, belonged to the whole of Oceania, which has never staged a senior FIFA World Cup before.

“We cannot thank you enough, Mr. President, and FIFA, for all the assistance that has been given to the Football Federation of American Samoa,” said Mr Godinet. “(It) helps us develop our football here in American Samoa, from the grassroots to our youth development, to our senior teams, to prepare themselves to compete in our local competitions as well as FIFA competitions. “

“It's a sign of your passion that you travel this far to a member association. It doesn't matter if it's small or big. It's always important to you. We thank you so much for your presence here, and your dedication.”

The FFAS has set aside FIFA Forward funds to build a new high-performance centre, including a small stadium, once land is acquired, a process which requires government support. It is also planned to use FIFA Forward funding to improve the national competitions for men and women, finance national team costs, improve coaching standards and re-develop the current technical centre. Mr Ale said that the government was working with the FFAS to provide some land that would enable the building of world class pitches. “We are very interested in expanding our collaboration with FIFA so that we can really develop soccer here in American Samoa and in turn in the Pacific community,” he said. “We would ask for FIFA support in terms of fields and coaching, so that we can really develop and promote the game here in American Samoa.”

The FIFA President has already attended FIFA Women’s World Cup matches in every venue in Aotearoa New Zealand and, following current first round of visits to the Pacific Islands, he will attend group stage matches in Australia. After the next leg of visits to member associations in the OFC, Mr Infantino will return to Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia.