Firmly in the spotlight since the start of the 2013 CAF Africa Cup of Nations on 19 January, Africa is preparing to welcome FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter for a six-day tour, which begins this Wednesday in Mauritania. After making stops in Guinea and Botswana, Blatter will wrap up his trip in Johannesburg, South Africa, next Monday.
His first port of call will be the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott, where he will meet with the president of the country’s football association (FFRIM) Ahmed Ould Yahya. Together they will review the various areas of cooperation between Mauritania and world football’s governing body.
During his two-day stay in the country, Blatter will also attend the opening of the Mauritanian FA’s new headquarters, a Football Academy, and two artificial pitches at the Stade Cheikha Ould Boidiya, which have been installed thanks to the “Win in Africa” project.
“Mauritanian football has been immersed in a serious crisis for many years,” Ahmed Ould Yahya told FIFA.com in an interview a few months ago. “Football came to a halt in my country and the national team disappeared from the world ranking because it just wasn’t playing. Speaking as the new president, I hope that with the support of FIFA we can come back strongly.”
Blatter will head from Mauritania to the Atlantic coast and Conakry, the capital of Guinea. His hectic schedule there will begin with a visit to the site where the new offices of the Guinean Football Federation (FEGUIFOOT) are being built, followed by a trip to the Nongo Football Academy, where an artificial pitch built with the support of the Goal Project has just been laid.
After two days in Guinea the FIFA delegation will make its way to Botswana and its capital Gaborone, where it will be welcomed by Botswanan Football Association (BFA) President Tebogo Sebego and the nation’s Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, Shaw Kgathi. On the agenda is the opening of the Lekidi Football Academy, where an artificial pitch is also due to be built.
“Blatter’s visit is a big gesture for us as a member association and as a nation,” said BFA Secretary General Tariq Babitseng. “It is not every day that the FIFA President comes to visit you.”
The last stage of Blatter’s African tour will take him to South Africa, where the Africa Cup of Nations is currently being played. The FIFA President will be in the crowd for next Sunday’s big final at the FNB Stadium (formerly known as Soccer City), the venue for Spain’s triumph in the Final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ two and a half years ago.