Thursday 13 July 2023, 13:55

Gianni Infantino tells CAF Ordinary General Assembly that African football is booming

  • 45th CAF Ordinary General Assembly took place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

  • Draw for FIFA World Cup™ African Qualifiers was due to follow the Assembly

  • FIFA President spoke of the importance of investing in club and national team football

Gianni Infantino, in his address to the 45th CAF Ordinary General Assembly, said that African football was thriving and that new opportunities pointed to an even brighter future for football on the continent. The FIFA President stressed the importance of working together with African governments, CAF and member associations to ensure that the game continued to progress. “African football is booming, and I say this with a smile, I am very happy about that because all of us contributed to make this happen and the best is still to come,” said Mr Infantino in his speech to the Assembly, which took place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The Assembly was due to be followed by the FIFA World Cup 2026™ African Qualifiers draw. Nine or ten African teams will qualify for the finals in 2026, compared to the previous five, and Mr Infantino said this would create new opportunities and incentives. “This is significant because it will allow you, your governments and your football people to invest in football with a real chance of participating in the pinnacle of world football, the FIFA World Cup,” he said.

Mr Infantino remembered that FIFA’s investments in African football had increased from USD 70 million per four-year cycle before he was elected in 2016 to USD 500 million in the current 2023-26 cycle. “That is more than seven times more -- it is money invested in youth, in football, in girls and boys, to make this beautiful continent shine. And thanks to participation in competitions and to increased investments, there are of course many more opportunities,” he said. A new league for Africa’s top clubs, due to start in October, was an example of the way forward. “An inaugural edition, with eight great teams from Africa, which will then be followed in the coming year by a big version of that. We need to invest in club football as we do with national team football. We have to make African national team football and African club football shine on the world stage -- it is our responsibility, it is our duty and it is our task and, with the work and contributions of all of us as a team, we will definitely succeed,” he said.

He also spoke about the importance for countries to join FIFA’s Talent Development Scheme, which is designed to help all member associations ensure they made the most of the talent available to them.

“Out of 126 countries which have applied, 32 are African which is great but there are still 22 African countries which have not applied for the project of course,” he said. “It is free to apply, you receive a full-time FIFA coaching expert who will be in your country to build up a real FIFA academy.”