Wednesday 15 March 2023, 14:45

Gianni Infantino congratulates OFC President before unopposed re-election

  • Lambert Maltock was re-elected as OFC President by acclamation

  • FIFA President addressed delegates at the OFC Extraordinary Congress

  • OFC’s two FIFA Council representatives were also elected unopposed for second terms

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has addressed delegates gathered for the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Extraordinary Congress, and took the opportunity to congratulate Lambert Maltock, moments before the incumbent President was re-elected unopposed. In his speech, the FIFA President also offered words of support to the wider OFC community for their continued efforts in developing football across the region. The Extraordinary Congress took place Kigali, Rwanda the day before the 73rd FIFA Congress – to be held in the same city. Speaking to delegates before President Maltock was re-elected by acclamation, Mr Infantino praised the commitment he has shown, and continues to show, for football development across the Oceania region. “Congratulations in advance, dear Lambert, for running unopposed in this Congress,” President Infantino said. “It shows that your members – but also the other Confederations and FIFA – appreciate your leadership. Your work, your commitment and your passion for the game which is not new, but has come to fruition more in the last years since you were elected.”

The FIFA President also took the moment to look ahead to what promises to be a pivotal period for football development across the upcoming years – with the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ to be co-hosted by the region for the first time, and a number of its member association nations having secured their berths at upcoming FIFA tournament. “It will be the greatest World Cup ever,” President Infantino added, referring to the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™. “With 32 teams, with eight newcomers, and New Zealand has already hosted the tournament to qualify for that World Cup, with three new teams having made it there. “I would like, as well, to congratulate, of course, New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia for having qualified for the boys’ competitions this year in Indonesia and in Peru. I’m sure that you will all perform very well and we will all continue to grow football.”

Mr Infantino also noted the increased opportunities the expanded FIFA World Cup 2026™ will provide for all 11 OFC member associations – in which the Confederation is guaranteed one place at the next tournament, with a second potentially available via a playoff. The FIFA President concluded: “In order to have a chance to qualify for a [FIFA] World Cup, this will grow the game immensely in Oceania. We need to give the opportunity and it’s our responsibility to work for that, to do that all together. So this is an exciting year ahead for all of us. This is a women’s year, but this is also the year of Oceania where we put ‘Ocean’s Eleven’, where we put Oceania in the centre of the world.”

During his own address, President Maltock, laid out his own priorities for football development across his next term in office. He said: “Priority one is development and education with our member associations prioritised to improve and professionalise their respective management and administration. Priority two is high performance with the planned launch of the OFC Professional League by 2025 likely to be revolutionise the game in Oceania and place OFC in a new era of a professional confederation. Priority three looks to good governance which must be upheld at the core of all our member associations.” During the Congress, OFC’s two FIFA Council representatives Johanna Wood and Rajesh Patel were also elected unopposed for second terms.