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FIFA president reveals plans for African football

Gianni Infantino outlines FIFA's new plan to project African football with three key strategies

February 1, 2020 By Emmanuel K. Budu-Annor
According to the head of world football's governing body, the sport on the continent is set to experience a serious revamp.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has affirmed his desire to "project African football to the top of the world" by unveiling a joint FIFA/CAF strategy deigned for the sport's elevation on the continent. The Swiss–Italian football administrator made the declaration at a historic seminar on the development of competitions and infrastructure held in Rabat, Morocco on Saturday.

At the event which was attended by the heads of FIFA and CAF, delegates from all of CAF's 54 Member Associations, African football legends, as well as major stakeholders, investors and the media, Infantino outlined three key pillars which will form the basis of football's uprising on the African continent from the strategy proposed. The core objectives of the revamping process are tabbed under refereeing, investment mobilization and competition development.

1. Creation of a group of professional referees

The first of the three key pillars of FIFA/CAF's joint-strategy for the elevation of African football will see the pair partnering to create, finance and organize a group of professional referees. This is to ensure that the selected officials will come out with unquestionable integrity.

"Referees have to be above and beyond doubt and to do that we have to protect them," the FIFA President said.

"We will take 20 of the best African FIFA referees, professionalize 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."

2. Investment mobilization

As the project to carry African football to the top of the world remains a long-term one, there is a plan to ensure that funds and resources continue to flow unconditionally, hence the need for investments. In that regard, FIFA and CAF, in partnership with investors and with a minimum fund of $1 billion, will make concrete and sustainable infrastructural investments in Africa. It will be the duty of FIFA to ensure that the funding is managed via transparent accountable procedures.

"We are elaborating a proposal to mobilize $1 billion to build at least one top stadium in the countries of each of FIFA and CAF's 54 Member Associations," Mr. Infantino revealed.

"In the countries where there is already at least one very good stadium, the investments can be done in other infrastructures."

3. Competition development

Regarding competition development, diverse initiatives are in the pipeline to boost the attractiveness of football in Africa. Headlined by the proposal for the African Cup of Nations to be played every four years instead of two years, the range of initiatives include the creation of a world nation league for women's football, regularly held youth world championships and more youth competition categories. A plan for the creation of a new pan-African club competition was also cited.

Here, permanent member clubs would be urged to invest an amount of $20 million annually over five-year period and would also have to meet other vital participation criteria such as investment in youth and women's football.

"We have to reflect about how we can revolutionize African football," President Gianni Infantino said.

"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."

The pan-African league is expected to generate a revenue of $3 billion over a five-year cycle, a statement on FIFA's official website revealed. Click here to read the full statement.

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