Following Mamelodi Sundowns FC of South Africa’s victory over Wydad Athletic Club in the championship match, FIFA President Gianni Infantino declared that the African Football League (AFL) had brought significant changes to the world of football.
Mr. Infantino watched the Sundowns defeat their formidable Moroccan opponents 2-0 on Sunday at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa.
This was his second visit to the competition after he watched the opening match in Tanzania last month.
The Sundowns were the first team to lift the AFL trophy.
The mood in Pretoria, South Africa, is quite amazing.
The African Football League’s inaugural final.
Congratulations to Mamelodi Sundowns for their victory.
“Congratulations to Wydad Casablanca as well, who had an incredible game,” Mr. Infantino declared during the post-match festivities.
“Great game, great atmosphere, this public is a champion already. African football won today.
” This is a great day for Africa, it’s a great day for football, it’s a great day for the world.”
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA partnered to develop the AFL, which is the latest outcome of their cooperation. FIFA helped CAF launch the league.
Enyimba Football Club (Nigeria), Atlético Petróleos de Luanda (Angola), Wydad, the Sundowns, Tout Puissant Mazembe (Congo DR), Espérance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia), Simba Sports Club (Tanzania), and Al Ahly FC (Egypt) were among the eight most renowned and successful teams in Africa for the tournament’s inaugural format. The competition began with teams paired in two-leg quarterfinals.
By pitting the largest clubs in Africa against one another, the competition was designed to showcase the calibre of football played on the continent, encouraging both local and foreign investment in the sport as well as global fan participation. It is expected to grow to 24 teams by 2024.
Speaking to media earlier in the day, the FIFA President had said: “[More] opportunities for clubs in Africa to compete at the top level, to have more competitive, passionate games, to be able to generate, as well, more revenues, more attention, and that’s exactly what the African Football League does, has done, and will do even more.”
The amount of money provided to FIFA’s 211 Member Associations (MA) under the Forward initiative has increased seven times since Mr. Infantino was named FIFA President in 2016.
Over the course of the upcoming four-year cycle of the initiative, Forward 3.0, each MA, who is eligible to apply to Forward to help cover the costs of football-related development projects in their nation, might receive up to USD 8 million.
Among the topics Mr Infantino addressed was the future of football in South Africa. On the first of his two days in the country, he attended the Orlando Pirates FC VS Kaizer Chiefs FC Soweto derby.
He and CAF President Patrice Motsepe met with Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, at the latter’s official residence in Tshwane.
“In the pleasure of meeting the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, ahead of the final match of the African Football League 2023, to discuss football development and the opportunities this special competition will provide to those with a football dream in South Africa and all of Africa,” said the FIFA President, who presented President Ramaphosa with an official matchball from the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™️ final, a competition where South Africa reached the knockout rounds for the first time in their history.
“Thank you very much to President Cyril Ramaphosa as well as to CAF President Patrice Motsepe and South Africa’s Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Zizi Kodwa, for all your support so far and I look forward to continuing our work in building a more inclusive world through the power of football.”