Sunday 06 August 2023, 09:30

Gianni Infantino opens new football facilities during Fiji visit

  • FIFA President inaugurated a fitness centre and futsal pitch at the Fiji FA headquarters

  • MoU signed between FFA and the government to launch Football for Schools in Fiji

  • Funds have been allocated by the federation to build a high performance centre and stadium

Gianni Infantino has visited Fiji where he opened new football facilities and discussed football development with the country’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, the Deputy Prime Minister Biman Prasad and Fiji Football Association (FFA) President and FIFA Council member Rajesh Patel, plus other government officials. During a visit to the FFA headquarters, the FIFA President inaugurated a new fitness centre, named after the late Brazilian legend Pelé, and a futsal pitch built with the support of FIFA Forward. Mr Infantino also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the FFA and the government to launch a Football for Schools project in the country. The FFA is also planning to build a high performance centre, for players graduating from football academies, which will include a 15,000-capacity stadium. It has allocated funds and has included the plan in the objectives agreed with FIFA for the current FIFA Forward cycle.

“These are projects, which will make boys and girls in this part of paradise happy,” Mr Infantino said. “Happiness, joyfulness, a fantastic trip. The FFA with the President, Rajesh Patel, doing an excellent, excellent job here.” “Let’s not forget that Fiji qualified for the last FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina only a few months ago. The future in Fiji looks bright and I’m proud that FIFA is part of that future. And, of course, I would like to thank the government of Fiji, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister – all Ministers who are engaged to assist us, to help us to work together as a team for the youth here, in Fiji.”

The Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Prasad, said that Fiji could follow the example of Jamaica and South Africa, who defied the odds to reach the last sixteen of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™, being played in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Fiji, in my view, has the potential to do the same. It can climb up the ladder after having gained valuable experience through participation in two (FIFA) U-20 World Cups in the last eight years, and that is commendable on the part of the FFA and those who lead our soccer administration,” he said.

“For its part, the coalition government stands ready to support such developments because we strongly believe that sport plays a key role in the nation’s progress – economically, socially, politically,” he added. “I thank you, Mr President, once again for taking keen interest in the development and progress of football in our nation. FIFA’s support and financial commitment towards the development and implementation of projects is indeed laudable.”