Friday 17 March 2023, 13:00

Arsène Wenger: “We can do something exceptional”

  • FIFA Talent Development Scheme to support key projects across the world

  • The goal is to have at least one high-performance academy in every FIFA member association by 2026

  • Arsène Wenger: “I feel it’s a huge challenge for the world of football”

Looking forward to the 2023-2026 Talent Development Scheme, FIFA Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger has marked a spot on the horizon.

“The vision is that the competitiveness at U-17 level is already increased in four years and that competitiveness is transferred to the top of the game. We want more good examples, like Morocco or Japan, to show that long-term planning pays off,” says Wenger. “For those who have a talent for football, we have a responsibility to help them develop that. That’s why I believe that we want, in the next four years, to bring more good players in the world.”

The main objective of the Talent Development Scheme (TDS), led by Wenger, is to create a sustainable legacy for long-term talent development by maximising each participating member association’s opportunities. In doing so, FIFA will support all member associations participating in the TDS through a funding allocation of USD 200 million for the 2023-2026 operational lifecycle.

For Wenger, it is an important mission. “The responsibility of society overall is to give every talent or every person a chance to be educated. If you have no education, you have no chance in life. And that’s why, on the football front, we have that responsibility. It is a huge challenge for the world of football and it can be fantastic if we are efficient. If we are successful in our mission, we can do something exceptional. Of course, we want to create the next Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi – but what is most important is to give every child a chance in the world – boys and girls – and that is far from being the case at the moment.” “We analysed the whole world and we realised that in half of the world, talented children, boys or girls, have no possibility of developing their talent. In the same way, the objective is also to maximise the potential of every member association and I think the two go well together. We will go into the countries, we want to send our coaches, we want to create centres of excellence in every country and, therefore, develop the talent over a four-year programme,” says Wenger in a video interview. “We have to identify the talent in the country, that’s the first step. The second important step is to maximise its potential, is to put the best with the best. That’s why I call them ‘excellence centres’, because you want to group together the best players and give them an education. And, for the boys and the girls, of course, we delegate coaches, appointed by FIFA, who we educate and who we send to the different countries that need them.” FIFA talent coaches Another key element of the TDS is the FIFA Talent Coach Programme. The goal is to make sure that, by 2026, every member association has at least one functioning high-performance academy for talented youth players. “That means with obligatory criteria such as quantity of training sessions, quality of school education, quality of coaching level and quality of the competitions we want to organise inside the countries. That’s why we give a financial allocation as well. And it is linked with the fact that Gianni Infantino supported me on that,” concludes Wenger.