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African Football Development in FIFA’s Agenda

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Today in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the FIFA President visited the site of TP Mazembe’s new football stadium, which will be able to hold 50,000 fans, and the club’s youth academy. Infantino and the delegation were greeted by TP Mazembe fans, including the fan brass band who sang and danced for the delegation as they toured the sites.

In TP Mazembe’s Football Academy, Moïse Katumbi, club president and Vice-President of the new World Football Club Association, gave the group, which included FIFA Secretary General and General Delegate for Africa Fatma Samoura, CAF President and FIFA Vice-President Ahmad Ahmad, FIFA Legend and Special Advisor to CAF President Samuel Eto’o, FIFA Legend and CEO of the FIFA Foundation Youri Djorkaeff, FIFA Deputy Secretary General (Football) Mattias Grafström, a tour of the facilities.

The group had the opportunity to see several classes in action and paid a surprise visit to young footballers studying biology and French. They also observed a class dedicated to helping children who have difficulties reading and writing.

A press conference then took place where the FIFA President informed members of the media about FIFA’s plans to support and develop football in the DRC and Africa. He spoke about three specific pillars: refereeing, infrastructure and competitions, as well as FIFA’s plans to develop these hand in hand with CAF and the African football stakeholders.

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The first pillar, refereeing, will create a professional and elite group of African referees who will be independent of administrative and political bodies. This follows on from CAF’s last Executive Committee meeting at which a decision to implement reforms in the refereeing sector was approved.

The second pillar, infrastructure, will see FIFA mobilise companies and entrepreneurs to gather around USD 1 billion with the objective of building at least one stadium that complies with FIFA’s standards in each African country.

The third pillar, competitions, focuses on developing new and better competitions to generate more revenues so that the African clubs can retain talented players.

The FIFA President mentioned the possibility of creating an African League that would see the best clubs from the continent play against each other and the organisation of regional competitions and youth tournaments to further help the development of young players in Africa.

Speaking at the press conference, FIFA President Infantino said: “What I want, what FIFA wants and what football needs is to see African football shine. We want to bring it to the highest of heights and show the world the outstanding talent and amazingly gifted players your continent possesses. To do this, we want to implement a three pillar approach: refereeing, infrastructure and competitions. In close cooperation with CAF, the 54 member associations across Africa and other stakeholders, I am positive that we will make African football reach the top level where it should be because the quality and potential are definitely here.”

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s statement on passing of Kobe Bryant

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued the following statement Sunday regarding the passing of Kobe Bryant:

“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.

“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning.  He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary:  five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals.

But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability.  He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna.

“We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organization and the entire sports world.”

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Oyo: Sports Minister, Sunday Dare donates relief materials to Akesan fire victims

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Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare on Thursday said that the priority of all tiers of government should be to ensure that victims of the Akesan Market fire get the needed assistance to enable them get back on their feet.

He stated this in Oyo Town when he visited the Palace of Alaafin Oyo to present relief materials to victims of the fire. He said he was in the ancient town to also commiserate with the people on the fire disaster that razed Akesan market in the early hours of last Sunday.

“I have written and spoken with Minister of Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs, who is on lesser Hajj. She has assured that NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency) will intervene.
“I am confident that the minister will do the needful when she visits Oyo next week,” the Minister disclosed.

“I had promised to work with all the relevant stakeholders to bring succor to those affected by the fire. Earlier today I was in Ibadan, where I engaged Governor Seyi Makinde on this matter. I will continue to engage with relevant stakeholders to see what intervention can be made to bring relief to victims of the fire.
“The priority is to ensure that victims of the fire get the needed assistance to help them get back on their feet,” the Minister added.

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Mr. Dare, who hails from Oyo State, later presented the relief materials to the Alaafin of Oyo.

The Minister also visited the burnt market where he encouraged victims of the fire not to lose hope while charging that they have the potential to rise up stronger from what had befallen them.

 

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Liverpool Wins Club World Cup

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Roberto Firmino was again the hero for Liverpool as the forward’s extra-time goal allowed Jurgen Klopp’s side to beat Flamengo 1-0 in the Club World Cup final in Doha on Saturday and lift the trophy for the first time.

Firmino was picked out by Sadio Mane and waited for goalkeeper Diego Alves to commit before slotting low into the net in the 99th minute of an absorbing contest at the Khalifa International Stadium.It was the moment that finally punctured the hopes of the Brazilian side and their vibrant support, after Liverpool had been denied a penalty by VAR at the end of normal time.The Qatari referee initially gave a spot-kick for a foul on Mane by Rafinha on the way into the box, but changed his mind following a lengthy review, forcing the contest into an extra 30 minutes.Still, the European champions had enough to come out on top, with Firmino repeating his semi-final heroics, when he scored an injury-time goal to secure victory against Monterrey of Mexico.The win allows Liverpool to complete a fabulous year with a third piece of silverware to go with the Champions League and UEFA Supercup.Having earned the title of world champions, if Klopp’s team can see out their huge lead at the top of the Premier League this season, they will have a case to be remembered as the finest side in the illustrious history of the club.Flamengo had been hoping to repeat their win over Liverpool in the old Intercontinental Cup back in 1981 and thereby become the first non-European winners of the Club World Cup since fellow Brazilians Corinthians beat Chelsea in 2012.They fell short, but they certainly gave the Premier League leaders a game in what was their last outing of a long season.

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– Van Dijk back, Firmino hits post –

Klopp had welcomed back Virgil van Dijk after the inspirational Dutchman sat out Wednesday’s semi-final due to illness.That allowed skipper Jordan Henderson to return to his usual midfield berth, while Firmino, Mane and Trent Alexander-Arnold were all recalled after starting on the bench against the Mexicans.Firmino, Naby Keita and Alexander-Arnold all came close for Liverpool in the first six minutes as they came flying out of the traps.Fielding the same team that started their semi-final win over Al Hilal, the Brazilian and South American champions gradually settled into the game, spurred on by their raucous travelling support.Bruno Henrique, the star of their semi-final victory, had their best opportunity in the first half, coming inside from the left to meet a long ball forward by goalkeeper Alves before seeing his shot deflected past.The Rio giants, with veteran Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus on the touchline, matched the European champions for much of the first half but were lucky not to fall behind at the beginning of the second period.Less than two minutes after the restart, Firmino controlled Henderson’s ball forward and sent a shot off the inside of the post before seeing it rebound away.However, Liverpool also needed goalkeeper Alisson to come to the rescue with a fine stop from a Gabriel Barbosa strike, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain then went off injured as extra time began to loom.Then Alves stretched high to his left to tip a net-bound Henderson shot from 25 yards over the bar before, with the match in injury time, the English side thought they had a penalty for Rafinha’s tackle on Mane.However, referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim dramatically cancelled the decision after coming across to review the footage on a pitchside monitor.Liverpool finally found a way through nine minutes into the first half of extra time though, with Mane finding Firmino after being pushed wide of goal by Rafinha.Firmino made no mistake, and Flamengo were unable to respond.AFP

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