FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter was in Lagos, Nigeria on 10 and 11 February 2009 to take part in the African Football Confederation (CAF) congress. He was accompanied by a FIFA delegation including the Secretary General Jerome Valcke, and also attended the award ceremony for the CAF 2008 Player of the Year.
The FIFA President landed in Nigeria on 10 February in time to see Emmanuel Adebayor succeed Frederic Kanoute as CAF Player of the Year, having been chosen by the 53 national coaches of the CAF-affiliated countries. The Arsenal striker, who is currently out of action with a hamstring injury, became the first player from Togo to win Africa's highest individual accolade. Mohammed Aboutrika picked up the best club-player award, having won the Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt and the CAF Champions League with Al Ahly, who were also voted club of the year. Fellow countryman Hassan Shehata, head of the Egypt national team, was named coach of the year.
At Wednesday's CAF congress, Blatter took the opportunity in his inaugural speech to congratulate Nigeria for their Olympic silver medal and Al Ahly for qualifying for the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2008.
In 2009, Africa will have three showcase events as the continent gears up for the main attraction in 2010: the FIFA Confederations Cup, the FIFA U-20 World Cup and the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
The head of world football's governing body also had other items on his agenda. "The FIFA Congress in Sydney last year changed the regulations to prevent players under the age of 18 from being transferred, as protecting players who have not yet reached adulthood is of the utmost importance. To do this, we need all players to be registered with clubs as soon as they start playing, and I'm calling on all of the member associations of the CAF to help us to achieve this," the FIFA President said.
He also touched on the enormous challenge facing the continent ahead of 2010, saying: "The FIFA World Cup is coming tomorrow, but it's today that the work for it needs to be done. In 2009, Africa will have three showcase events as the continent gears up for the main attraction in 2010: the FIFA Confederations Cup, the FIFA U-20 World Cup and the FIFA U-17 World Cup."
During the congress, Cameroon's Issa Hayatou was re-elected for a further four-year term as CAF President, a post which he has held since 1988. Hayatou expressed his gratitude to the delegates for their support in his continued service to African football.