Friday 22 September 2023, 10:40

FIFA President thanks Rwandan President Kagame for support in football development

  • Gianni Infantino hails "fantastic partners" that President Kagame and Rwandan Football Association have played

  • Both leaders pledge to continue "dynamic football development" in the country

  • Earlier this year Rwanda became the first African nation to host an electoral FIFA Congress

FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Rwandan President Paul Kagame have met in New York and agreed to continue their fruitful collaboration in order to maintain the momentum in football development in the East African nation.

With President Kagame in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, the FIFA President took the opportunity to meet one of the most staunch advocates of FIFA's efforts to raise standards, and improve infrastructure and inclusivity in African football.

"It was great to meet the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, in New York to discuss his country’s dynamic football development and we agreed to continue our fruitful collaboration in the future," said Mr Infantino, who was re-elected as FIFA President at the 73rd FIFA Congress hosted in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, in March this year.

"Rwanda were wonderful hosts of the FIFA Congress earlier this year and President Kagame, his government, and the Rwandan Football Association have been fantastic partners for FIFA, working hand in hand with us and putting a lot of time and effort into taking our sport forward in the country."

Just before the Congress, President Kagame had been - alongside King Mohammed VI of Morocco - honoured with CAF's Outstanding Achievement award for his contribution to football on the African continent.

He and the FIFA President also inaugurated the Kigali Pelé Stadium in honour of the late Brazilian legend, following the suggestion of the FIFA President that all 211 member associations could do so to mark the iconic player's passing in late 2022. The Rwandan government paid for the stadium upgrade while FIFA contributed to the cost of a new pitch.

At the grassroots level, Rwanda became the 14th CAF nation and the 50th around the world to launch the FIFA Football for Schools programme earlier this year, while the UMURI Foundation - run by former Rwandan international Jimmy Mulisa - has been empowering impoverished children through football since 2018.

With the FIFA Forward 3.0 programme providing the Rwandan Football Association (FERWAFA) with increased funding in coming years - one of the 11 pledges for his second four-year term President Infantino made at the Congress in Kigali - the pace of change will only increase given it is allied to political and organisational determination in the country.

"There is a genuine passion and love for football at every level of society in this country and I agreed with President Paul Kagame to continue to give girls and boys in the country the opportunity to get exercise and education through the beautiful game," added the FIFA President.