FIFA Secretary General concludes tour with visit to House of Football
Auckland was the location of a series of meetings with key government and sport stakeholders for a FIFA delegation led by FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, following the completion of a tour of Australia’s five and New Zealand’s four cities that will host the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in 2023. In talks with Auckland Unlimited, a government body tasked with promoting the cultural and economic development of the city of Auckland and Auckland Council, the main topics discussed were the excitement of the city and its residents around the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the tournament’s positive potential for the city after the challenges it faced with the COVID-19 pandemic. Football as a tool to promote health and well being for young people, particularly girls was also covered. The FIFA delegation, led by Secretary General Fatma Samoura met with staff at the New Zealand offices of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 to discuss preparations for the ninth edition of the tournament. The group then travelled to FIFA’s Regional Development Office, also in Auckland, to meet with the team there and talk about its work implementing FIFA’s COVID-19 Relief Plan with member associations in the region.
Next was a meeting between the FIFA Secretary General and Helen Clark, Global Leader in Sustainable Development and Gender Equality Patron of the Helen Clark Foundation. The importance of football development in particular was the focus of talks, as well as their shared belief in its role in empowering girls and women. A highlight of the Auckland itinerary was the announcement of the draw date for the FIFA Women’s World Cup - Saturday 22 October 2022 - at an event attended by the FIFA Secretary General, New Zealand Minister for Sport and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson. as well as Mayor of Auckland, Phil Goff. This was followed by a meeting with FIFA Partner Xero, a small business management platform. In exchanges with Xero’s Managing Director for New Zealand Craig Hudson and Director of Customer & External Communications Janna Wilkinson, the role the company will play in championing women’s football and the empowerment of women worldwide in small businesses during the FIFA Women’s World Cup were key themes.
Additional meetings with Football New Zealand took place in Auckland with a focus on how the member association could best support FIFA during the Women’s football tournament next year. Meetings in Auckland concluded with a visit to the Oceania Football Confederation’s (OFC) new House of Football, Te Kahu a Kiwa. Led in a tour of the facilities by OFC Secretary General Franck Castillo and joined by Johanna Wood, President Football New Zealand, FIFA Council member and OFC Council member, the delegation viewed the 850 m2 facility. Te Kahu o Kiwa will house OFC’s 43 staff and serve as a base for visiting personnel and teams from the confederation’s 11 Member Associations and 2 Associate Members. Its football facilities will play an important role in the confederation’s goal of seeing two Oceania nations competing at the FIFA World Cup 2026 and FIFA Women’s World Cup 2027.
Facilities are also being used by the neighbouring communities and will constitute a centre of excellence for the development of youth football for girls and boys. The finished campus will feature two artificial pitches and dressing rooms suitable for hosting elite matches. Speaking at her last function in the Southern Hemisphere the FIFA Secretary General said: “The OFC team should be extremely proud of what has been achieved in constructing this impressive facility. Through the House of Football here in Auckland, football development is being driven forward in an efficient and transparent manner for the eleven MAs and the two Associate MAs in this region. We look forward to seeing the fruits of this with more teams from Oceania qualifying for the men’s and women’s FIFA World Cups in the coming years.”