Yesterday in Lubumbashi the CAF and FIFA Presidents visited the site of TP Mazembe’s new football stadium which will hold 50,000 fans, followed by a visit to the club’s youth academy.
Ahmad and Infantino, along with their delegation, were greeted by TP Mazembe fans, including the fans’ brass band who sang and danced for the delegation as they inspected the sites.
In TP Mazembe’s Football Academy, Moïse Katumbi, club president and Vice President of FIFA’s new World Football Club Association, gave the group which included FIFA Secretary General and General Delegate for Africa Fatma Samoura, FIFA Legend and Special Advisor to CAF President Samuel Eto’o, FIFA Legend and FIFA Foundation CEO Youri Djorkaeff, FIFA Deputy Secretary General for Football Mattias Grafström and the rest of the delegation a tour of the facilities.
The group had the opportunity to see several classes in action and paid a surprise visit to young footballers studying science, English and French. They also observed a class dedicated to helping children who have difficulties reading.
Following their tour of the facilities Fatma Samoura said: “Moïse is doing important work here in DRC through the TP Mazembe Football Academy. He is simultaneously linking together two things we are passionate about at FIFA, football and education. I’m very moved to see that he is investing time in young people and instilling in them the importance of sport for a healthy life, and education for one full of opportunities.”
A press conference then took place where the FIFA President informed members of the media about FIFA’s plans to support and develop football in the DRC and Africa.
He spoke about three specific pillars: refereeing, infrastructure and competitions and FIFA’s plans to develop these hand in hand with CAF and the African football stakeholders.
The first pillar, refereeing, will create a professional and elite group of African referees who will be independent of administration and political bodies. This follows on from the decision taken in the last executive committee meeting of CAF where a decision to implement reforms in the refereeing sector was approved.
The second pillar, infrastructures,will see FIFA mobilize companies and entrepreneurs to gather around $USD 1billion with the objective of building at least one stadium that complies to FIFA’s standards in each African country.
The third pillar, competitions, focuses on developing new and better competitions to generate more revenues so that the African clubs can retain talented players.
The FIFA President mentioned the possibility of creating an African League that would see the best clubs from the continent play against each other, the organization of regional competitions and youth tournaments to further help the development of young players in Africa.
Speaking at the press conference FIFA President Infantino said: “What I want, what FIFA wants and what football needs is to see African football shine. We want to bring it to the highest of heights and show the world the outstanding talent and amazingly gifted players your continent possesses. To do this we want to implement a three pillar approach: refereeing, infrastructures and competitions, in close cooperation with CAF, all of its 54 Member Associations across Africa and other stakeholders I am positive that we will make African football reach the top level where it should be because the quality and potential are definitely here.”