Concluding a five-day tour of African member associations, FIFA President Gianni Infantino was today in Congo for a visit which was marked by several key steps for the development of football in the country and the broader region.
Infantino, who was accompanied by a delegation including CAF President and FIFA Vice President Ahmad, FIFA Secretary General and General Delegate for Africa Fatma Samoura, FIFA Legend and Special Advisor to CAF President Samuel Eto’o, FIFA Legend and CEO of the FIFA Foundation Youri Djorkaeff and FIFA Acting Deputy Secretary General (Football) Mattias Grafström, met with the Congolese Minister for Sports and Physical Education Hugues Ngouélondélé, who was empowered by the President of the Republic of Congo to bestow honours upon the FIFA and CAF Presidents.
In a ceremony at the Palace of the Ministry, Infantino was elevated to the level of Commander in the Order of Congolese Merit and Ahmad was elevated to Officer in the Order of Congolese Merit.
The one-day visit was also an opportunity for President Infantino to attend the inauguration of the new headquarters of the Congolese Football Association (FECOFOOT) – which were partly funded through FIFA’s Forward Programme – and meet the FECOFOOT leadership under President Jean Guy Blaise Mayolas.
“It is the first time a FIFA President has visited this country and it was about time, because you are as passionate about football as any country in Africa. FIFA is committed to being close to you and to work hand in hand to develop football, to have more and more girls and boys playing, to bring smiles and promote the good values of sport in general and football in particular,” said President Infantino.
The day in Brazzaville concluded with an audience with Congo President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. During their talk, Infantino thanked the head of state for the support the authorities had shown FIFA via an agreement signed earlier that day by Samoura and Secretary General of Foreign Affairs, Cyprien Sylvestre Mamina, to open the fourth FIFA Regional Office in Africa in Brazzaville, Congo.
The office will be officially opened in the first quarter of 2020 with the aim of bringing member associations in the UNIFFAC zone closer together and to support and assist them in football development projects.