By Fredrick Nadulli aka Razor,
Past and present football exponents will attest to the long held belief that Africa is a continent blessed with immense football talent. It’s busting from the seams. For those who know and keenly follow the dynamics of the game, perhaps only South America rivals the raw natural talent Africa possesses, the rough diamonds that lack a savvy jeweller to polish.
Granted, the rest of the continents like Europe and the Americas have the infrastructure and know-how to go with it’s own talent, but Africa’s development has stubbornly stagnated for lack of the same over ages.
World football governing body FIFA has sensed this yawning gap and seeks to bring positive change going forward.
The organisation has come up with three vital pillars which when fully implemented and rolled out will see this continent take it’s place among the football elite, the big boys. Speaking at a presser while on a tour of Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo – DRC – FIFA president Gianni Infantino said his organization has come up with a fine blueprint of key factors to help raise standards of the game, chief among them infrastructure, refereeing and competitions.
The supremo observed that not many nations have adequate and proper infrastructure to sustain and run quality competitions across the length and breadth of the continent. Towards this end, FIFA in conjunction with CAF will seek to rope in enterpreneurs and large corporates to put together funds and help construct at least one stadium that meets FIFA standards in each country.
Accompanied by CAF president Ahmad Ahmad and other high ranking officials on a tour of leading club TP Mazembe’s academy in Lubumbashi, Gianni said one of his greatest wishes was to see African football shine and soar to new heights under his watch, and this can only be achieved by provision of top notch infrastructure.
It must not be lost on observers that FIFA already supports Member Associations through a program dubbed FIFA FORWARD to assist improve the game.
While it is the ultimate dream of every aspiring athlete to play pro football in Europe and beyond, Gianni’s administration yearns for a continent that can discover, nurture and retain it’s cream of the crop, it’s future prospect, devoid of the talent drain that Africa has suffered with top players filing in droves to seek greener pastures in more established and lucrative lands far from home. The head honcho yearns to see a possible future African league that would bring together top clubs against each other.
For the record, before the Arab Spring that rocked a better part of North Africa, footballers plying their craft in those leagues had no better reason to leave the continent and search for higher packages overseas. “When clubs can generate more income and keep their best workforce, FIFA shall have achieved it’s ambition on the part of competitions.
For eons, officiating has been this continent’s Achilles heel. From manipulation to threats and even to worse cases like assault and blackmail, the men in black have operated in a hot furnace full of intimidation, unable to carry out their duties efficiently and honestly, despite the massive effort and awareness put to reverse this ignominious trend. Following an earlier approval by CAF’s Executive Committee, FIFA intends to give the arbiters of the beautiful game more independence and instill professionalism within their ranks.
TP Mazembe founder and president Moise Katumbi, worthy host during the high powered delegation’s visit to the DRC, is a good operative and fine case study of what FIFA aspires for Africa. The team toured the site of a proposed large capacity stadium and a functional youth academy where future talent is polished.
Gianni Infantino certainty has the interest of the African game at heart going forward. When he and his team eventually get things into top gear in regards to the three key pillars of refereeing, infrastructure and competitions, this continent will finally stir up, like a giant from a deep slumber, and take it’s place among the table of elite world football.