Monday 12 February 2024, 06:10

Gianni Infantino says CAF Africa Cup of Nations brought the continent together to celebrate football

  • FIFA President watched Côte d’Ivoire beat Nigeria 2-1 to win the trophy

  • Hosts victorious on home soil at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan

  • Gianni Infantino delighted to see so many FIFA Member Association Presidents at the match

The CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2023 was a fantastic tournament that brought the continent together to celebrate football, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said as he attended the final between hosts Côte d'Ivoire and Nigeria at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan. One day after watching the AFC Asian Cup 2023 final in Doha, Qatar, Mr Infantino was present at another continental final to witness Côte d’Ivoire win 2-1 and claim the title for the third time.

The FIFA President was greeted by the President of Côte d'Ivoire Alassane Ouattara and Confederation of African Football (CAF) President and FIFA Vice President Patrice Motsepe as well as the Presidents of more than one dozen FIFA Member Associations in Africa and elsewhere. FIFA‘s Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger was also at the match.

"Congratulations to CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2023 winners Côte d’Ivoire,” said Mr Infantino. “It brings to a close a fantastic tournament - runners-up Nigeria and all the award winners must also be applauded. A big thank you to everyone at CAF for organising this spectacular tournament, to the fans for turning up in numbers, and to everyone else involved for showing how beautifully Africa can come together to celebrate our beautiful game.”

The FIFA President, who also participated in the trophy ceremony, said it was “really special” that so many member associations were represented at the final. “Football Unites The World,” he added.

The 34th edition of tournament produced non-stop excitement, dramatic comebacks and shock results, showing that the competitive level is rising across Africa following investments in football development.

The highlights included Namibia and Mauritania each winning their first-ever matches at the tournament and reaching the knockout stage for the first time. Cabo Verde enjoyed their first-ever win in a knockout stage match as they progressed to the quarter-finals after topping their group ahead of Ghana, Egypt and Mozambique. Remarkably, none of the eight quarter-finalists at this year’s tournament had reached the same stage in Cameroon two years ago.

The contest’s highly competitive nature of the tournament also showed that CAF was right to expand the tournament from 16 to 24 teams from the 2019 edition.

Mr Infantino has been a strong advocate of football development in Africa and attended matches of the recent African Football League. The project, which was launched last year by CAF with the support of FIFA, is aimed at raising the profile of African clubs, and giving players the opportunity to compete more regularly against the best teams on the continent, as well as increasing commercial and TV revenue in African football.