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Governing Bodies

Infantino  and Okonjo-Iweala look to build on collaboration

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FIFA President Gianni Infantino and World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala have resolved to  expand their partnership and help the economic empowerment of women.

According to news from the football governing body, FIFA and the WTO last September signed a Memorandum of understanding  where they agreed to look at ways of using football to promote economic inclusion, particularly in developing countries, and co-operate on the WTO’s cotton programme.

Cotton is a particularly important source of livelihoods and export revenue in the ‘Cotton Four’ (c4) countries, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali, as well as some other countries including Côte d’Ivoire and Niger.

FIFA and the WTO have been looking at ways to boost the sourcing of cotton used in sportswear from those nations.

Infantino and  Okonjo-Iweala spoke during Making Trade Score for Women!, a series of panel discussions held at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and which also featured the unveiling of the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy in advance of this year’s 32-team final tournament which will take place in Australia and New Zealand.

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 “It is true that the FIFA Women’s World Cup represents the pinnacle of excellence in women’s football, but it is equally true that in the past, the women’s form of the game has not received the attention and prominence that it deserves,” Dr Okonjo-Iweala said.

“Women in sport, as in every sphere of life, are entitled to the same rewards enjoyed by their male counterparts.

“Sadly, this has not been the case, and we’re really delighted at the effort that FIFA, under President Infantino, is making to change this narrative.

“The upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup represents a unique opportunity to discuss how the sport can be made more equal and crucially, how the economic returns from football can be better distributed.”

Dr Okonjo-Iweala then spoke about the opportunities for expanding the WTO’s partnership with FIFA.

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 “More needs to be done, both in trade and in sport, to narrow the gap between the economic benefits enjoyed by men and women for equal work,” the WTO Director-General added.

“What I can see are the opportunities on the trade side, and when we couple that with the drive by FIFA and others to grow the game in developing countries,

“I can see the potential for trading services to increase.

“We are now physically engaged in trying to do something about that by starting with the ‘Cotton Four’ [initiative], and when this initiative succeeds, there is potential to see how we can expand this partnership to different parts of the sports goods world.”

Infantino said that football had a global economic of well over USD200 billion and that 70% of this was in Europe – showing the untapped potential in other parts of the world.

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 “Imagine the potential that there is still outside of Europe, and the ‘Cotton Four’ initiative is part of unleashing that potential,” he said.

The FIFA President said that women’s empowerment is playing a significant part in football’s economic growth, with crowds of 80,000 to 90,000 at some recent women’s football games in Europe, while 50,000 people attended last year’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations final in Morocco.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Governing Bodies

Tinubu backs Amaju’s FIFA Council re-election bid

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Former Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, Amaju Pinnick has secured the backing of Nigeria’s President,  Bola Tinubu in his bid to get another term in office as one of Africa’s representatives in FIFA Council.

The 37-member FIFA  Council is the main decision making body of the organisation in the intervals of FIFA Congress. 

Pinnick is the third Nigerian to ever sit in the FIFA Council after Oyo Orok Oyo (1980-1988) and Dr. Amos Adamu (2006-2010).

Pinnick was elected into the council on 12 March 2021. He is bidding for re-election in 2025 when the current term lapses.

According to a media release from the State House and signed by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity,

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President Bola Tinubu expresses strong support for Nigeria’s bid for re-election into the FIFA Council

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Governing Bodies

Save Our Soccer, African Sports Journalists plead with Motsepe

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

An SOS has been sent by the International Sports Press – Africa (AIPS -Africa) to the President of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Dr. Patrice Motsepe to save the soul of African soccer.

 The sports writers’ body has written an open letter to Motsepe on the need to do more to save African football.

The letter, written Monday in Dakar, is premised on the recurring scheduling problems that “have made CAF a victim of collateral damage from the “war” between UEFA and FIFA.”

Continuing in the letter signed by AIPS-Africa President, Abdoulaye Thiam, the sports writers’ body noted that UEFA contributed to overloading of the international calendar with the creation of the Nations League, which is played on FIFA dates

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Owing to the congested international calendar, football competitions in Africa have been major victims.

AIPS wrote: …”the stuttering and uncertainties surrounding the programming of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) leave many wondering about the future of our continent’s most prestigious competition, which is struggling to find a place in the international calendar.

“Added to this, the external influences and the overload of the international calendar, modelled on the European interests, increases the scepticism surrounding the survival of CAF’s most lucrative and economically viable tournament.

“As a result, therefore, it is rare, if not impossible, for an African team to find a European team to spar with, except when they share the same group in a World Cup draw every four years.     

“As for FIFA, in addition to the Arab World Cup, it has also created the Club World Cup. Worse still, it decided to stage the latter competition from June 15 to July 13, 2025, a period initially chosen by Morocco to host the AFCON 2025. In fact, Cairo’s dependence on Zurich enabled FIFA’s latest competition to happily shake up the 67-year-old African Cup of Nations.”

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Also affected by the global football calendar are the scheduling of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and African Women’s Champions League.

The journalists recalled that the changing of AFCON tournaments from the even-ending years to the odd  was to avert situations of clashing with World Cup years and to avert exhaustion on players.

The situation is such that scheduling of tournaments in Africa is now determined by compromise reached with UEFA and FIFA.

AIPS averred that “it is important to deconstruct the image of Africa as a prominent stakeholder in the global game with huge voice of 54 member associations and votes being presented as an electoral cattle-tank, to be adequately given their fair share during debates and dialogues with FIFA, by offering constructive solutions with a view to accelerating a reform of the international calendar.

“It is therefore expected from CAF leaders to ensure respect for African Football which is full of great administrators and players alike…Mr. President (Motsepe), you claim to be a disciple of Nelson Mandela and a well respectable man. A man of principles. So do kindly refuse and remain our inspiration than anything else.”  

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Governing Bodies

Breaking! CAF’s axe falls on Eto’o

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Confederation of African Football (CAF) has imposed a fine of $200 thousand on Samuel Eto’o Fils, a former international footballer and President of Fédération Camerounaise de Football (‘’FECAFOOT’’).

  The fine is imposed on the FECAFOOT president for violating the principles of ethics, integrity and sportsmanship as provided in Article 2  paragraph 3 of the CAF Statutes.

He is found to have violated the said article by signing a Brand Ambassador contract with the company 1XBET in exchange for remuneration.

 He however escape sanction in a bigger allegation of match fixing and manipulation.

Eto’o faced charges of alleged manipulation of football matches and violating the principles of ethics and integrity.

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The Disciplinary Board ruled that there was insufficient proof to find him and Valentin Nkwain guilty of match manipulation.

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