ZURICH — Thursday, during a call that preceded the 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU), AU Chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa and FIFA President Gianni Infantino spoke of the positive momentum generated between both organisations in the past two years as well as the strong institutional bonds forged between the AU and FIFA for the benefit of the African people.
Reviewing the progress made since both organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding in February 2019, the two leaders discussed various topics, including plans to boost African Football with a particular focus on infrastructure (stadia, football pitches), football academies and competitions, but also on the fight against match manipulation, as well as safety and security at football matches across Africa.
The joint #SafeHome campaign from August 2020 between the AU and FIFA, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF), where the four organisations addressed the important issue of domestic violence, which was exacerbated by COVID-19-related lockdowns and stay-at-home measures by launching a successful awareness-raising campaign is a further testimony of the close collaboration between the AU and FIFA.
A number of Africa-based FIFA Legends supported the campaign via video awareness messages which were distributed on social and traditional media. Both the AU Chairperson and the FIFA President also recognised the opportunities that education through football can bring through the FIFA Football for Schools programme which is being coordinated globally via the FIFA Foundation.
Having visited 35 African countries in the last few years, Gianni Infantino stressed the important role that Africa plays in global football, and how that needs to be strengthened in future. This role has been supported with strong investments via the FIFA Forward programme which has already delivered close to 300 projects across the continent.
The rollout of the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan, supporting football across Africa during the pandemic, has also been significant and continues to play an important role to keep football alive in the continent.
Related to COVID-19, vaccination processes will also be crucial in the months ahead. In this respect, the FIFA President reiterated his support for fair access to vaccines for all, a message that he had passed to a global audience earlier this week at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in the presence of the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The FIFA President thanked the AU Chairperson for their continued support, and assured his AU counterpart that the strong relationship forged between both organisations in the past two years will continue when Félix Tshisekedi, the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, will assume the role of African Union Chairperson for a one-year term during the aforementioned Assembly, which takes place on 6 and 7 February 2021.