Thursday 16 May 2024, 13:15

FIFA President praises OFC’s success in co-hosting FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™

  • Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Congress took place in Bangkok, Thailand, on the eve of the 74th FIFA Congress

  • FIFA can make a “real difference” in Oceania, Mr Infantino said

  • Gianni Infantino visited all 11 OFC nations in 2023

Gianni Infantino has praised the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) for its “incredible success” in co-hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ during his address to the 30th OFC Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, and committed FIFA’s continued support to the region going forward. The FIFA President also emphasised the importance of unity, saying it was more important than ever for a confederation such as the OFC and adding that “we all depend on each other.”

A senior FIFA tournament was staged in an OFC Member Association for the first time last year when New Zealand co-hosted the FIFA Women's World Cup with Australia. “It was such a success thanks to the contribution of each and every one of you,” said Mr Infantino, who was speaking on the eve of the 74th FIFA Congress which, like the OFC Congress, is taking place in Thailand for the first time.

Having personally visited all 11 OFC Member Associations in 2023, the FIFA President reiterated that FIFA would continue to support the region with programmes and funding. “We can invest in Oceania and we can make a real, real difference in Oceania,” he said. “Solidarity investments, FIFA Forward programmes and others are obviously guaranteed, not only guaranteed, but we will as always exceed.”

Participation in FIFA tournaments is a crucial cog in fast-tracking football development across member associations and confederations and FIFA’s recent changes to tournament structures means more opportunities for players from Oceania. This was exemplified in March by the first-ever FIFA Series, six four-team tournaments which provided opportunities for teams to face opposition from different confederations, with New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu all taking part from Oceania.

Mr Infantino noted that OFC now has a guaranteed slot at both the FIFA World Cup™ and FIFA Women’s World Cup™ and will benefit from expanded and more frequent youth tournaments. New Zealand will take part in both the men’s and women’s Olympic Football Tournaments Paris 2024 and will make their debut at the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2024™ in Uzbekistan. Meanwhile, Fiji will make their debut at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2024™ in Colombia, with New Zealand also participating.

“By increasing the number of teams in the under-17s, playing them yearly, by increasing the number of teams in the under-20s, playing them every two years….and increasing the participation of OFC countries….this will have a real, real impact in the future for your competitions, both for girls and boys,” Mr Infantino said.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino with (L-R), FIFA Vice-President and CONCACAF President Vittorio Montagliani, FIFA Vice-President and OFC President Lambert Maltock, OFC Secretary General Franck Castillo and FIFA Secretary General Mattias Grafström

Additionally, club football will be supported with the planned implementation of the OFC Professional League in 2025.

OFC President Lambert Maltock said the confederation was happy to stage its Congress in Bangkok. “We are really proud to bring OFC to this place, to this corner of the world. It’s a magnificent city here in a beautiful country and we thank FIFA for making that possible.”