FIFA President concludes African tour in Burkina Faso

Yesterday, following a visit to the Republic of Benin, 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 travelled to Burkina Faso.

Upon arrival, the delegation travelled to the Kosyam Palace, the official residence of the President of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. At the Palace a meeting took place between the FIFA delegation and President Kaboré, facilitated by Burkinabe Minister of Sport and Recreation Daouda Azoupiou, in a relaxed atmosphere.

Presidents speak
Taking the floor, the President of Burkina Faso welcomed the high-level delegation from FIFA led by Infantino. President Kaboré said: “As far as I know this is the first-ever visit of a FIFA President to Burkina Faso and we take great pride in it, as it is testimony to the trust that Infantino has in the football governance of my country.

“As a football fan and a political leader I know well the power of football and that winning a match can change the mindset of the whole country. My government is working very closely with the Burkina Faso Football Association (BFFA) to consolidate the game of football and position it strongly within our nation.”

Speaking about his impressions of Burkina Faso Gianni Infantino said: “The first time I visited Burkina Faso was in 1998. I wasn’t in the football industry; I was just a football fan who wanted to live football in Africa. I was fascinated by the performance of Cameroon during the 1982 FIFA World Cup and I wanted to feel this special something of African football and the AFCON 1998 offered me that opportunity. I won’t talk about the score that day and you all know why, but that special feeling is something that I’ll never forget.

“Being here today for the second time in my life you cannot imagine how emotional I am. Football is the only sport in the world that can trigger this kind of emotion and it’s our duty as football lovers to nourish and preserve this unrivalled wellbeing that football can give for generations to come. I commend President Kaboré for his unwavering support to the game that brings joy to so many people and for his multifaceted contributions to the development of football.”

A stronger African voice
In addition, the FIFA President thanked the BFFA’s leadership for sharing this passion for football through their actions and not just their words stating: “Today if there was one individual who embodies the growth of football in Burkina Faso, it’s President Sita Sangare.”

President Sangare then paid tribute to Infantino for giving Africa a much stronger voice within the governance of world football by increasing not only the number of African teams, but also the number of African representatives on the FIFA Council and Committee as well as keeping his promise to put African football at the centre of his priorities. He expressed his delight that Infantino had appointed “an African sister at the helm of the FIFA administration and an African brother as Development Director for Africa and the Caribbean”. Ending his speech, Sangare said: “Gianni you can count on our full support to continue your laudable mission at the head of FIFA.”

CAF Vice President Constant Omari echoed Sangare’s praise for the FIFA President and complimented Infantino’s love of Africa and his determination to go the extra mile and take African football to the highest levels.

The FIFA delegation then travelled to the headquarters of the BFFA. Discussions took place with a varied group of stakeholders in Burkina Faso football, which included members of the BFFA Executive Committee and Burkinabe Minister of Sport and Recreation Daouda Azoupiou, who presented Infantino with a project for the recovery of youth football.

Solar success story
After the meeting the FIFA President was invited to officially inaugurate the new solar-powered floodlights pilot project at the stadium of local club Étolie Filante se de Ouagadougou.

Speaking after the event, Infantino said: “The inauguration of this solar panel stadium is a dream come true. When I was informed about the conditions under which football was being played in Burkina Faso three years ago I thought about having a cost-saving energy system tested in this country, the first African country I ever visited. My wish is to have this project rolled out in all countries confronted with high energy costs and harsh weather conditions to allow millions of boys and girls to enjoy playing in safer conditions.”

Following the inauguration, a press conference took place followed by a dinner hosted by the BFFA President before the delegation departed.