By Duncan Mlanjira
FIFA president Infantino arrived in Antananarivo, Madagascar for a date with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Ahmad Ahmad and the Malagasy Football Association (FMF) as he begins his visit to several African member associations including Malawi.
According to www.fifa.com, his delegation comprises FIFA general secretary and general delegate for Africa Fatma Samoura, deputy secretary general Mattias Grafström, chief member associations officer Véron Mosengo-Omba, former French international and FIFA Foundation CEO Youri Djorkaeff, FIFA legend and special advisor to CAF president Samuel Eto’o.
upon arrival in Madagascar’s capital city, Infantino and his delegation were received by Ahmad and Malagascar FA president, Raul Arizaka Rabekoto.
Other countries that Infantino and Ahmad will be visiting in Africa include Mozambique, Lesotho, Angola, Congo DR, Congo and Malawi.
In Antananarivo, the FIFA president met President of the Republic of Madagascar Andry Rajoelina, as well as hold meetings with Malagascar FA president and members of his executive committee,.
Then they shall head Mahajunga to visit the CAF offices where a meeting of the FIFA Member Associations Committee will take place.
“We are delighted to receive the FIFA president in a continent where he feels very at home, Africa,” Ahmad is quoted as saying as he welcomed the FIFA delegation.
Malagascar FA president Rabekoto said: “Today is an historic day for Malagasy football and the FMF. The passionate football fans of Madagascar welcome you President Infantino.”
To which Infantino replied: “I’m happy to be back in Africa, a place where I feel so at home.
“We are delighted to be here and to start our African tour in your country.
“We intend to do great things for African football, restoring the hope of many and bring smiles to the faces of millions of children in Africa.”
A report by www.africanews.com says Infantino’s discussion during his meeting with state president Andry Rajoelina focused on development of football talent in the country.
‘‘We are truly honoured by your visit today. We are very proud of how well our national team has progressed and your presence here reinforces our drive to see football thrive in Madagascar,’‘ Rajoelina is quoted as saying by www.africanews.com.
Meanwhile, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu has dispelled criticism that was circulating that Infantino’s visit is to garner his election campaign ahead of the association’s elective AGM on December 14.
Nyamilandu, himself a FIFA Council member, told Malawian media that made a request to Infantino earlier this year to inaugurate the Mpira Stadium and he has now taken advantage of his African tour to do just that.
Nyamilandu is seeking a fifth term as FAM president in a race that his closest challenger is first vice-president James Mwenda.
Infantino was earlier this year re-elected FIFA boss for a second year term that will end in 2023.