The ruling body’s three-point agenda is a necessary panacea to the development and growth of football in Africa
“What I want, what Fifa wants and what football needs is to see African football shine.”
That was Gianni Infantino speaking on the grand plan to improve the quality of football on the African continent.
The Fifa president was attending the opening of Tout Puissant Mazembe’s new stadium, and his statement couldn’t be more fitting.
Infantino spoke about three specific pillars: refereeing, infrastructure and competitions, as well as Fifa’s plans to improve these with the Confederation of African Football (Caf) and the football stakeholders.
According to him, the first pillar will create a professional and elite group of African referees who will be independent of administrative and political bodies.
Also, the second pillar, infrastructure, will see Fifa assemble industries and business persons to gather around USD 1 billion with the objective of building at least one stadium that complies with Fifa’s standards in Each African country.
The third pillar, competitions, will create more attractive competitions in order to keep the best players plying their trade in Africa, as opposed to moving abroad, but might be a challenge as many of these stars want to test themselves on the biggest stage.
Furthermore, Infantino also disclosed the prospect of creating an African League that would see the best clubs from the continent play against each other and the organisation of regional competitions and youth tournaments to further help the development of young players in Africa.
With African football often plagued with poor refereeing decisions, pitiable infrastructure and the dearth of finances, Infantino’s three-pillar program covers some of the areas that have been the source of frustration to many who felt it’d held back football in Africa.
There have been several cases of refereeing decisions marring important games, while substandard stadiums have been a hindrance as well.
Article continues below
Recently, Zimbabwe were forced to move home games from Harare to Bulawayo, 440 km apart, after Caf deemed the National Sports Stadium, as well as many stadiums in the country, as below the required standard.
Thus, Fifa’s plan is a testimony that they are for the good of the beautiful game, and it will go a long way to easing such issues on the continent.
However, the presence of more lucrative tournaments will convince some to stay as the attractiveness of African football will grow, albeit gradually.