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Infantino railroads Africa into transformation agenda

Before an empty stadium: Notwane and GU prepare to battle it out before few fans PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Worried about the declining standards of the African game, FIFA president, Gianni Infantino has proposed an ambitious transformation programme to turn around the continent’s fortunes.

While Africa has been a constant conveyor belt of talent to, particularly Europe, local leagues have continued to decline.

In Botswana the effects have been devastating, with teams sweating out for ‘nothing’ in the current season, after a decision to scrap prize monies.

Namibia went for years without a league competition, while generally the standard has remained below par across the continent.

CAF’s flagship club competitions, the Champions League and Confederations Cup, have failed to spark.

Infantino took full advantage of CAF symposium in Morocco last week, to lay bare a three-pronged plan, which he believes will torch-off a football revolution.

He identifies three key areas, which needed immediate attention; infrastructure, referees and competitions.

“Infantino proposes that Africa will select the best 20 referees who will be professional and fully paid by FIFA. They will handle all our competitions, and charged with the responsibility of training referees across Africa,” said Botswana Football Association president, Maclean Letshwiti who attended the symposium.

“The second thing that he talked about was the infrastructure, that a lot of stadia in Africa does not measure to FIFA

standards. There is a clear distinction between a match played in Africa and Europe in terms of ambience and the playing turf.”

 The FIFA boss wants $1billion to be raised in order to build one quality stadium in every African country.

Countries that do not have a FIFA standard facility would not be allowed to host international matches, instead they would be played in the nearest country with a good stadium.

Infantino also spoke about competitions, and their failure to generate sufficient income.

“He proposed that we look at the nature and quality of our competitions. We should look at the composition or the frequency of the competition. We also looked at an African club league, imagine if one of clubs plays there, imagine the value that this will bring to our league, and improve our national team,” Letshwiti said.

There have been proposals to hold the Africa Cup of Nations after every four years instead of biennially.

While there have been no immediate timelines for the transformation agenda, but Infantino is keen on making an immediate impact.





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