Wednesday 27 March 2024, 17:00

FIFA Series™ “a great step” for African football, says Fernandes

  • FIFA Director Member Associations Africa Gelson Fernandes says African countries “absolutely love” the chance to play teams from other continents

  • Nine of 24 teams in FIFA Series pilot phase were African with five travelling outside the continent to play friendly matches

  • Algeria and Egypt among five host nations across three FIFA confederations

FIFA Director Member Associations Africa Gelson Fernandes has called the FIFA Series™ “a great step” in creating new opportunities for African countries to face opponents from other continents. With the express aim of enabling more teams from across FIFA’s six confederations to play each other more frequently and in line with FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s Strategic Objectives for the Global Game: 2023-2027, the pilot phase of the FIFA Series was rolled out during the March 2024 Men’s International Match Calendar window. Of the 24 teams involved, nine were from Africa: Algeria, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, South Africa, Tanzania and Tunisia. Egypt and Algeria served as two of the five inaugural FIFA Series hosts, welcoming some of their fellow Confederation of African Football (CAF) members while others travelled further afield.

Tanzania were the CAF representatives in Azerbaijan where they played Bulgaria in their opening game, marking the first time they had faced European opponents. Across two locations in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Cabo Verde took on Guyana in their first encounter with a Concacaf team while Equatorial Guinea played an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) opponent for only the third time in their history in the shape of Cambodia.

Also in Jeddah, Guinea played teams from the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and Concacaf for the first time when they met Vanuatu and Bermuda respectively. Central African Republic travelled to Sri Lanka where they played AFC member Bhutan in only their second game against a non-African team and also marked an historic first encounter with OFC opposition by defeating Papua New Guinea.

Godame Tieri of Central African Republic celebrates scoring his team's third goal with Yawanendji Christian Theodore

“They love it,” said Fernandes in Algeria, where the hosts met South Africa as well as Bolivia and Andorra. “Central African Republic travelled all the way across the world to play in Sri Lanka. They absolutely love it. When could Central African Republic have had the possibility to play such games against countries from other continents? “The same there, Asian teams playing against African. It’s great and this is what we are about, this is what we are at FIFA. We try to unite things, unite the world and it’s surely a great step.”

Morlaye Sylla of Guinea celebrates with teammates after scoring

Egypt hosted Croatia, Tunisia and New Zealand in Cairo, while Algeria staged matches in Annaba and at the recently opened Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers where a gripping 3-3 draw between the hosts and South Africa brought the curtain down on FIFA Series 2024: Algeria™.

“Algeria has been a fantastic host and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts for these initiatives, to have believed in the FIFA Series and to have made sure things run smoothly. It has been a total success,” said Fernandes, who was at the match in Algiers. “That’s football, that’s what we're passionate about and what motivates us every day.” He added: “I’m very happy with, I would say, the commitment of everyone, with the passion and also with the way they did things and big thanks to the FIFA leadership for this great initiative.”

FIFA Director Member Associations Africa Gelson Fernandes