During his one-day visit to Ghana last Monday to meet the Ghana Football Association (GFA) as part of a working tour of Africa, Infantino briefed both President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and later the media about steps he had taken and continues to take to fulfil his manifesto pledge to ensure African football takes its pride of place.
“When I say something I put my words into action. I said that my General Secretary will not have to be a European. My first General Secretary is a lady from Africa, Fatma Samoura, and she holds the most important office at the FIFA,” said Infantino with a sense of pride.
“Africa is one of my priorities to develop the game with concrete plans. This is why I am here.
“In Africa we can channel the passion for football (to grow the game bigger) with appropriate structures,” noted the man who came to power promising to reform world football through greater transparency, accountability and good governance.
However, increasing FIFA’s funding for Africa from $27 million to $94 million annually was one of the ways Infantino believes he would accelerate the development of the game in Africa.
This amount will see the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and other sister federations in Africa receiving an annual support of $1.25 million for both administrative work and to fund particular projects estimated at $700,000.
In addition, he has pledged an annual funding of $10 million to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and other continental bodies, as well as $1 million to sub-regional bodies like WAFU, COSAFA and SECAFA to organise competitions.
The increased funding will not be freebies, he charged.
As part of his plans to change the way FIFA finances national association, Infantino said disbursement of the annual grants will be tied to a set criteria, including the publication of accounts by FAs.
“Publication of accounts by the associations must be made public to ensure good governance and transparency. Without that, FIFA will not fund these projects.”
Infantino said that the expansion of Africa’s seats from four to seven on the FIFA Council -- a non-executive, supervisory and strategic body that sets the vision for FIFA and global football – of which the GFA boss, Kwesi Nyantakyi, is a member, is a way of giving Africa a stronger voice in world football matters.
Additionally, he is proud that the adoption of his proposal for the expansion of the World Cup to a 48-team competition will guarantee Africa more slots from the present five.
“African representation will be more than seven. The numbers are being worked out,” he assured.
By Maurice Quansah vice president SWAG