Wednesday 19 July 2023, 09:00

Gianni Infantino tells OFC Congress that football is set to prosper even more in Oceania

  • 29th OFC Congress took place in Auckland on the eve of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023™

  • Gianni Infantino said he was proud of the work done by the OFC to host the tournament

  • FIFA President visited Tahiti before travelling to Auckland

Gianni Infantino has addressed the 29th Ordinary OFC Congress on the eve of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023™, the biggest sporting event to be held in the region, and said that football will prosper even more in Oceania in the future.

The FIFA Women's World Cup, hosted jointly by Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand and the first global tournament to be staged by two member associations from different confederations, kicks off on Thursday when New Zealand host Norway in Auckland’s Eden Park.

"You all have to be proud and take ownership for the greatest event coming to this part of the world for the first time, you have worked hard to make this happen," the FIFA President said. "The world is coming to see you and, those who are not coming physically, they will see you from home. I am very proud of what has been achieved by all of you to prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“I would like to acknowledge the very special welcome we always receive when we come to this part of the world,” he added. “Whether it's in New Zealand or in any of your countries, the welcome is always something special, something particular, special energy coming from the ancestors and bringing us together into the future, remembering the past in order to plan for what is to come coupled with a big heart.”

Mr Infantino arrived in New Zealand following a visit to Tahiti which he said made him appreciate the challenges which face OFC member associations and the work which is being done to overcome them. During the next month, he will also visit the other OFC members.

"The OFC has come a long way into modernity,” he added. “And we work together as well to make sure that, in the future, football will prosper even more in your countries. I will take some time to come and visit all of you in your countries and to see how we can grow quickly, to contribute and benefit the boys and the girls in this part of the world.”

He added that FIFA would continue to support OFC members through programmes such as FIFA Forward and the FIFA Talent Development Scheme. The latter, which is led by FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development Officer Arsène Wenger, is designed to ensure that countries fulfil their potential by making the best of the talent available to them. Among other things, FIFA will provide high performance specialists to guide member associations and will send coaches on-site to help set up academies.