Thursday 16 March 2023, 21:00

FIFA President pledges future support for Amputee footballers

  • Gianni Infantino attends amputee football game in Kigali, Rwanda

  • Freshly re-elected FIFA President 'overwhelmed'; promises more FIFA support

  • World Amputee Football Federation (WAFF) launched programme to promote female players Gianni Infantino vowed to help amputee players find a greater place for themselves within the football family after watching men's and women's amputee teams showcase their skills in Kigali, following his re-election to the FIFA Presidency on Thursday. Freshly re-elected by acclamation for a four-year term by the 73rd FIFA Congress earlier in the day, the FIFA President was joined on the side-lines by FIFA Puskas Award winner Marcin Oleksy, himself an amputee, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, FIFA Special Advisor and FIFA World Cup winner Youri Djorkaeff, FIFA Council Member Isha Johansen, and FIFA Legend and former Morocco international Houssine Kharja.

    FIFA President Gianni Infantino shakes hands with players during the WAFF Women Amputee Football event

    "You cannot be insensitive about these things, and I promised all of them (the players) that from now on, FIFA will work together with them and we will develop this, because they deserve much more. They are such great examples for all of us," the FIFA President said. "We have to include them because they are part of society. We are all part of the same society, the same world. Football has this unique magic of being able to unite the world; including everyone regardless of their background, ability (or lack of ability), origin, everything."

    FIFA President Gianni Infantino and FIFA Puskas Award winner Marcin Oleksy during the WAFF Women Amputee Football event

    The World Amputee Football Federation (WAFF), who were represented by Executive Director Georg Schlachtenberger, is at the vanguard of one of the fastest-growing sports worldwide, with more than 5000 players in over 50 countries across five continents. The event in the Rwandan capital marked the official launch of the WAFF Women's Programme with the organisation seeking to put particular emphasis on promoting women's amputee football.

    It is a goal that chimes harmoniously with those set out in FIFA’s Vision 2020-2023, which underpinned the social responsibility work carried out during President Infantino's first term in office. "This is so emotional, you know. These girls and boys, men and women, who are amputees, they play football, they enjoy it, they have a dream. They have a dream to do something, to exist, to enjoy," said the FIFA President. "You can see it in their eyes. They tell me when I speak to them, it’s just incredible. They say: thanks to football, we exist. Without football we wouldn’t exist. They’re not professionals, of course not, on the contrary, but football gave them an escape. I’m overwhelmed."