Message of unity, peace and solidarity in Mali visit 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino spoke of the importance of football in fostering unity, peace and solidarity during a visit to Bamako, the capital of the Republic of Mali, where he held meetings with the head of state, Bah N’Daw, the Minister of Youth & Sports, Mossa Ag Attaher, and officials from the Malian Football Association (FEMAFOOT), led by FEMAFOOT President, Mamoutou Touré.

“I am delighted to be here today, in a country that has experienced difficult times, and which is now on the right track once again,” the FIFA President said. “Unity is crucial for the future of this country and football can play its part in this process, because football has the unique power to bring people together, boys and girls, men and women. Mali has the potential to shine in Africa and also at a world level and FIFA is here to support where needed."

During the meeting with the authorities, the FIFA President took the opportunity to share with him the recent agreement between FIFA and the Democratic Republic of Congo to launch a schools football programme. The initiative will use football as a tool to teach children life skills, as well as creating a greater sense of unity and solidarity among participants. A similar initiative could be launched in Mali in order to encourage children to return to schools, many of which are still experiencing low attendance figures having had to close during the difficult times the country experienced recently.

Accompanied by the FEMAFOOT President and the Minister of Youth and Sports, the FIFA President visited the site of the future National Technical Centre and laid the foundation stone. The technical centre, which is supported by funds from the FIFA Forward Programme, will see training and development facilities made available for regional and national football in Mali.

“Today is an important day in the history of Malian football,” the FIFA President said. “This new centre will provide essential training and development facilities to ensure that Malian footballers can reach their full potential. I am sure that in laying the foundations of this new centre, we are also laying the foundations of renewed success here in Mali, as players from all backgrounds and beliefs will come together here to lift this great nation to the highest heights of African and world football.”

“On behalf of the entire Malian people, I express our gratitude to the FIFA President for this visit, especially for being present and lay this first stone which will house the future and first state-of-the-art football academy of our country,” said FEMAFOOT President Mamoutou Touré. “Many thanks for all that you are also doing for Africa, for football around the world, and especially for the support that you were able to give to us via the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan during the current coronavirus pandemic and by highlighting the need to act together and show solidarity across the globe.”