Following an earlier visit to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, the FIFA President, CAF Vice President Constant Omari, FIFA Secretary General, Development Director for Africa and the Caribbean regions Véron Mosengo-Omba, Regional Office Development Manager El Hadj Wack Diop and members of the FIFA administration yesterday travelled to the Togolese Republic.
Upon landing at Lome International Airport, Infantino was bestowed with the honour and rank of a traditional authority on behalf of President Faure E. Gnassingbé and presented with traditional Togolese robes to mark the occasion.
Speaking about his elevation to this rank, the FIFA President said: “I am hugely humbled to be considered worthy of being a traditional authority of Togo. The warmth, passion and joie de vivre of the Togolese people is contagious and I am immensely honoured that President Gnassingbé has bestowed this prestigious rank upon me.”.
The FIFA delegation was then escorted by the Minister of Sports Guy Madjé Lotenzo and Togo Football Association (FTF) President Colonel Guy Kossi Akpovi to the Palace of the Togolese Republic for a meeting with President Faure Gnassingbé, a passionate football fan. Discussions then took place on the educational aspects of football and the people of Togo’s love of the game.
FIFA’s Football for Schools programme, which will provide a platform to educate children through football, was also a key focus of the dialogue and Infantino briefed President Gnassingbé on FIFA’s plans to distribute nine million footballs to schools in the territories of the 211 member associations around the world. In additional an online platform will be created to inform teachers on how best to incorporate football into education.
During the meeting President Gnassingbé expressed his gratitude to Infantino for having kept his electoral campaign promise of increasing the number of African teams that will participate in the FIFA World Cup 2026. He also expressed his delight that Infantino had honoured Africa by appointing a Secretary General from the continent. The Head of State reinforced his commitment to continue supporting the Togolese Football Federation (FTF) across the country with funding.
A media session followed the meeting with the Head of State, in which Infantino emphasised the importance of FIFA’s continued support to the FTF in order to promote and grow football in the region for men and women. He said: “I’m very positive about the great impact that the allocation of dedicated funds through the FIFA Forward programme will have on women’s football in Togo. I’m looking forward to seeing how women’s football will expand and flourish here and provide great opportunities to girls and women to get involved in the game both on and off the pitch.”
The next meeting scheduled for the FIFA delegation was with various Togolese football stakeholders, including the FTF and its President Kossi Guy Akpovy, its Executive Committee, Claude le Roy – the coach of the Togolese national team – as well as representatives from various clubs and leagues. The main topics discussed were the need to continue developing football in Togo as well as the many opportunities and challenges the game faces in the country. The FIFA President stressed to those present his satisfaction on the positive direction the FTF is moving in under the leadership of President Akpovy and the need to join forces with FIFA to sustain these efforts.
The delegation was then invited to an official dinner hosted by outgoing Togolese Prime Minister Komi Sélom Klassou which featured local singers and traditional Bassa dancers.