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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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Kidnapped Nigerian Players Regain Freedom

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Enyimba FC star, Dayo Ojo, and Abia Comet’s Benjamin Iluyomade  who were kidnapped on Sunday have regained freedom.

Dayo and Benjamin, as reliably gathered were kidnapped while coming back from their teams camp on Sunday following the suspension of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) due to the outbreak of the COVID-19.

Enyimba FC in a statement informed that the players were abducted along the Benin-Owo Expressway but three days after, they were released.

” GREAT BIG NEWS!” the club also tweeted on their verified handle. “Our midfielder man, Dayo Ojo has regained freedom from his kidnappers” the club tweeted.

Their release followed combined efforts from the Aba-based club and their families.

The duo have been reunited with their families, the club’s statement further explained.

Ojo has seven caps for the Super Eagles and featured at the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) were Nigeria placed second.

 

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COVID -19: Anthony Joshua goes into self-isolation after meeting Prince Charles

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Following a meeting with coronavirus victim Prince Charles, the World heavyweight boxing champion,  Anthony Joshua has placed himself in self-isolation.

Officials on Wednessday confirmed that Charles, the eldest son and heir to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, is showing mild symptoms of coronavirus and is self-isolating in Scotland.

Though, it remains unclear when Charles caught the illness but on March 9, he spent the day with the Queen, prime minister Boris Johnson and stars of sport and entertainment, including Joshua  at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.

“AJ is at home following government guidelines, he is fit and well. He wishes everyone affected a speedy recovery and a huge thank you to all the front line key workers”, Anthony Joshuah’s spokesman told the Daily Mail.

Joshua is due to defend his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles against mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20.

But the coronavirus could delay that bout and push back a hugely anticipated all-British fight with WBC champion Tyson Fury until next year at the earliest.

In a series of Twitter posts on Tuesday, Joshua thanked all those involved in trying to combat the coronavirus by saying: “It’s humbling to see people giving their everything right now to keep us safe. Shout to everyone on the front-line.

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“We see you, we appreciate you, we thank you and we’re in awe of you!”

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Drogba scores big tourism win for Côte d’Ivoire

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International soccer star Didier Drogba has helped his birthplace, Côte d’Ivoire, strike gold by helping to collect MOUs for a total of $15 billion in commitments to back tourism projects in the west African country.

The breakthrough comes ahead of the UNWTO Forum for Africa, which will take place in Abidjan next week (February 20-22) and the influential Forum de l’Investissement Hotelier Africain (FIHA), which takes place in Abidjan next month (March 23 – 25). FIHA is known for its ability to link up the new investors with developers, consultants, contractors, hoteliers and political leaders.

The former Chelsea striker – and now UN world tourism ambassador – was part of a successful global push to promote the rising success and attractiveness of Côte d’Ivoire’s tourist economy. The country boasts a GDP growth rate of about 8% in 2019 and, as a destination, it’s in third place in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 2 million international visitors, behind South Africa and Zimbabwe, ahead of Uganda, Botswana, Kenya or Mauritius (according to UNWTO 2018 data).

Matthew Weihs, Managing Director, Bench Events, which organises FIHA, said: “This is an extraordinary and impressive effort by Côte d’Ivoire; and it makes this year’s Forum particularly interesting because the funding commitments are in place and the task now is to make projects happen.” Last year’s successful FIHA in Marrakech attracted 300 delegates from 28 countries.

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Under the banner, Sublime Côte d’Ivoire, Didier Drogba was a key player in a team of top Ivorian business and political leaders, as well as showbusiness figures, who took a roadshow to Dubai and Hamburg. They returned with more than 15 billion dollars of funding commitments for a variety of tourism projects, from hotels, to resorts and coastline development. All the backers have been invited to attend FIHA.

Philippe Doizelet, Managing Partner of Horwath HTL, the world’s largest and most experienced hospitality consultants, has been guiding Côte d’Ivoire’s efforts. He said: “It’s a blank page that the industry can write on in the most exciting way. Much has to be built – hotels alongside cultural centres and conference facilities, among other things. The amazing coastline offers great ‘bleisure’ (a mix of business and leisure) opportunities. Beyond Abidjan; Boulay island, Bassam and Jacqueville are currently the most promising locations.” He sees the greatest potential in ‘mixed-use’ projects, combining leisure, office and retail units with hospitality, in particular, branded 2-star & 3-star hotels and extended stay apartments.

Leading the country’s ambition to make tourism one of the main pillars of the economy, is Tourism Minister Siandou Fofana. Described by Philippe Doizelet as “visionary and deeply committed. He works hard to bring people together and attracts the best experts.”

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Bench Events, Managing Director, Matthew Weihs concluded: “FIHA and its affiliated event, the Africa Hotel Investment Forum, are central to driving investments in regional hotel and mixed-use projects. The events connect key international and regional stakeholders, private and institutional investors to the hotel developers and operators that are fuelling the growth of the hotel industry across the continent. The projects that are promoted and funded at FIHA drive investments in tourism, stimulate economic growth in regional markets, create jobs and encourage much needed infrastructure.”

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