Friday 03 June 2022, 12:00

Infantino hosts presidents of the Ukraine, Benin and Guinea-Bissau football associations

  • FIFA President Gianni Infantino played host in Paris to Andriy Pavelko, the president of the Ukraine Association of Football

  • Infantino also received a visit from Mathurin de Chacus, president of the Beninese Football Association and a member of the FIFA Council

  • In a further meeting, Infantino sat down with Carlos Teixeira, the president of the Bissau-Guinean Football Association

FIFA President Gianni Infantino welcomed Andriy Pavelko, his counterpart at the Ukraine Association of Football (UAF), to his Paris office on Thursday 2 June, the day after Ukraine’s 3-1 defeat of Scotland in the semi-finals of the UEFA play-offs for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. “It’s the favourite sport of millions of people and it’s bringing our country together,” said Pavelko. “The dream of qualifying for the World Cup unites the hearts of the Ukrainian people and we were all behind our players. It helped them to win. I can sense a lot of recognition towards football, which brought us all together for this match, and it was also wonderful to see the Scotland supporters applaud our players.

“Our meeting with President Infantino was very important because Ukraine is going through very difficult times right now, and it’s through football that we are going to give back to our children, our families and every Ukrainian what we had before the war,” added the 46-year-old Pavelko. “We’ve been in contact from the very start by phone and in person, which has meant so much. A working group was set up to sort out all the issues that were up in the air in Ukraine.” Ukraine will face Wales in Sunday’s play-off final in Cardiff.

The FIFA President also welcomed Mathurin de Chacus, the president of the Beninese Football Association (FBF) and a member of the FIFA Council. De Chacus was delighted to be visiting FIFA’s Paris office, which will help the country strengthen its productive partnership with world football’s governing body. “My government has seen the efforts FIFA is making in terms of supporting development through the construction of academies,” he said. “We have built 22 stadiums in four years in Benin. The FIFA President came to Benin and showed that football can contribute to development. The government is doing all it can to help us.” Aside from infrastructure, it is in education through sport that Benin has excelled itself in recent years with the pioneering role it is playing in the Football for Schools programme, which is founded on the values and appeal of football in inspiring young people. “With the support of Benin’s minister for sport, we are building something sustainable for the whole of Benin and Africa,” said De Chacus. “Football for Schools is now the best tool for creating a better future for football.”

The FIFA President’s day of meetings and discussions also included a visit from Carlos Teixeira, the president of the Bissau-Guinean Football Association. “President Infantino is a true football thinker,” he said. “I gave a broad summary of the current situation with regard to football in my country because I know he follows it closely. “He knows what’s going on and the circumstances that Guinea-Bissau is in,” added Teixeira. “We spoke about infrastructure and the precarious situation that our country’s clubs find themselves in. It was a very interesting discussion. Our working relationship could not be better. On behalf of my association, I would like to thank President Infantino for his attentiveness to Guinea-Bissau.”