Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 January 2022:
FIFA chief – Gianni Infantino’s statement made last week at the Council of Europe, saying that staging the World Cup tournament every two years could save African migrants from ‘death in the sea’, has caused outrage.
But is he right or wrong? Thats the question many Africans are asking. Or, was it a well-meant comment lost in translation.
Speaking at the Council of Europe last Wednesday, Gianni Infantino said that football was heading in a direction where “a few have everything, and the vast majority has nothing.”
“We need to find ways to include the whole world, to give hope to Africans so that they don’t need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find — maybe — a better life but, more probably, death in the sea,” Infantino said; adding: “We need to give opportunities, to give dignity. Not by charity but by allowing the rest of the world to participate. Maybe the World Cup every two years is not the answer. We discuss it.”
Reactions to his statement have been loud and fierce. Ronan Evain, executive director of the Football Supporters Europe group, said the remarks were “disgusting” and the biennial World Cup idea was a “megalomaniac plan.”
Following the huge global outrage, Infantino said on Twitter that his comments: “appear to have been misinterpreted and taken out of context.” He said his “more general message was that everyone in a decision-making position has a responsibility to help improve the situation of people around the world,” adding that he had made “a general comment, which was not directly related to the possibility of playing a FIFA World Cup every two years.”
So, what does Africa’s football governing body – Confederation Africaine de Football (“CAF”) thinks about Infantino’s remarks?
Yesterday, CAF issued this statement, saying that it is in full support of the FIFA boss remarks:
“The President of the Confederation Africaine de Football (“CAF”) (www.CAFonline.com) Dr Patrice Motsepe received cellphone calls yesterday from numerous football Presidents of African nations supporting the speech that FIFA President Gianni Infantino delivered at the Council of Europe on Wednesday 26 January 2022; as the speech was in line with previous CAF resolutions.
“Several commentators unfortunately seem to have misunderstood and misinterpreted President Infantino’s speech. He stated that football is one of the tools that should contribute to the economic and social development and upliftment of many Africans and also to building a better future and dignity amongst many people on the African Continent.
“President Infantino did not say that the FIFA World Cup every 2 years will stop Africans from crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
“The leadership of the 54 African football nations that are members of CAF have at previous meetings expressed their unanimous support for the FIFA World Cup taking place every 2 years due to the developmental and upliftment benefits to Africa and the developing world.
“CAF and the African football community are aware that if African governments, domestic and global businesses and investors and other development and social partners do not significantly contribute, to the provision of quality education, jobs, health services and other infrastructure facilities and “create an inclusive and better future for the poor, and particularly Africa’s approximately 300 million youth between the ages of 15 and 25; Africa will experience periods of consistent and sustained political and social instability and uprisings as well as migrations of millions of people within and outside the African Continent, seeking a better and brighter future.
“It is in this context that football is seen in Africa as an important tool and partner for governments, investors, philanthropists and the domestic and global football community in contributing to improving the living conditions of the poor and building an inclusive and bright future for the people of Africa and particularly the youth.
“CAF appreciates the partnership and commitment of FIFA and President Infantino to the development and growth of football in Africa and the world.”