FIFA is pressing ahead with its initiative to build a global club licensing system, with the latest seminar on the topic currently under way in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Organised in conjunction with the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the two-day seminar has brought together 13 member associations from across southern Africa to share information, expertise and experiences about the FIFA club licensing system. The system aims to improve club football by setting minimum standards in key areas such as stadium safety, fan experience and youth football development. Clubs then need to meet these standards to qualify for certain international competitions.

“Club licensing has an important role to play in raising professional standards and building stronger clubs,” says James Johnson, head of the newly created Professional Football Department at FIFA. “And stronger clubs mean a stronger foundation for global football.”

Each confederation is responsible for developing and implementing its own club licensing regulations that must at least meet the minimum standards set by FIFA. This system allows CAF, and the other confederations, to apply the rules flexibly, recognising the different circumstances and level of football development in each country.

The seminar will enable FIFA and CAF to identify the support that national associations need to implement club licensing in their own countries.

Shaka Hislop, the ESPN broadcaster and former Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper, delivered the keynote speech to open the seminar.

“This is an important initiative that will give many more players an opportunity to enjoy a career in professional football,” said Hislop. “I was lucky enough to play for great clubs like Newcastle United and West Ham United. We want young Africans to have the same opportunities – and club licensing can help lay the foundations. The club licensing system is allowing all Member Associations to work with the same model. It is allowing stakeholders to share knowledge and experiences.”

FIFA’s club licensing system has already been adopted by CAF, with 61 African clubs from 26 member associations currently licensed to appear in the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederation Cup.

World football’s governing body is now keen to see the system adopted at national level and is working and consulting with a wide range of football stakeholders as it takes its plans forward. Those attending this week’s seminar include representatives from CAF, South Africa’s Premier Soccer League, AmaZulu Football Club, and the South African Football Players Union, which is affiliated to FIFPro.

The member associations involved in this week’s seminar, which will conclude on Wednesday, 23 March, are: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

FIFA is planning to hold three more club licensing seminars in other parts of Africa later in the year.