FIFA Chief proposes new initiatives for upgrading African football

Sports Desk

RABAT: FIFA President Gianni Infantino proposed a range of new initiatives for the elevation of African football.
Speaking at a seminar in Rabat focusing on the development of competitions and infrastructure in African football, Infantino proposed the creation of a new pan-African club competition, a world nations league for women’s football, more frequent youth world championships, more youth competition categories.
The seminar was attended by the President of African Football Confederation CAF, delegates from each of CAF’s 54 Member Associations, African football legends, representatives from the international banking and investment industries and the media.
Infantino added that his proposal is part of a joint FIFA/CAF strategy for the elevation of African football focused also on refereeing and investment mobilisation.
Concerning refereeing he proposed the creation of a group of professional referees financed and organised by FIFA in partnership with CAF.
“Referees have to be above and beyond doubt and to do that we have to protect them,” he said, adding, “We will take 20 of the best African FIFA referees, professionalise them, and give them permanent, professional contracts. They should be the guardians of the rules of our game and we must protect them and make them totally autonomous.”
As for investment mobilisation, FIFA and CAF will assemble a panel of partners and a minimum fund of USD1bln to make solid and sustainable infrastructural investments in Africa, from which FIFA will ensure that this funding is managed via transparent accountable procedures.
“We are elaborating a proposal to mobilise USD1bn to build at least one top stadium in the countries of each of FIFA and CAF’s 54 Member Associations,” Infantino added.
The new pan-African club competition, proposed by the FIFA President, would comprise 20 permanent member clubs and would be supported by additional clubs that qualify via regional competitions.
The permanent member clubs would be urged to provide an investment of 20 million U.S. dollars to the project annually over five years, taking their total investment to 100 million dollars. They would also have to meet other participation criteria such as investment in youth and women’s football. In this way, the competition would have the potential to generate a revenue of USD3bn over a five-year cycle – and would also create the conditions for African football to be able to retain some of most talented players in the continent.
“I want to create a real pan-African league that would feature 20-24 clubs with a maximum of maybe two clubs per country that would still play in their national leagues but that would play during the year so we can really crown the club champions of Africa,” he added.
The seminar on the development of competitions and infrastructure in African football is organised, at the initiative of FIFA and in coordination with the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The event is aimed at harnessing commitment, determination and passion of all of those involved in African football.