AFA facilities hailed on a visit honoured by Argentinian legends

FIFA President Gianni Infantino closed his South American tour in Argentina, where he highlighted the role played by Argentinean football in the region – and the world – during the presentation of the Centre for Refereeing Technology and Development, a project fully financed through the FIFA Forward programme. President Infantino was received on Sunday afternoon at Ezeiza International Airport by the president of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) Claudio Tapia, and the following afternoon visited AFA's premises in Ezeiza. “[Ezezia is] absolutely impressive," said the FIFA President. "You can really feel football here. I want to congratulate President Tapia and all his team."

There, both Presidents unveiled a plaque at the Centre for Refereeing Technology and Development (CTDA), also known as the Video Operations Room (VOR) building, the first to be owned by a member association in South America. The building will serve as the headquarters for VAR operations in the country, and will include seven VOR rooms, administrative offices, meeting rooms and training rooms. The building has entered its final stage of construction and is due for completion in December. "This building is impressive. Not only for what it is, but for what the AFA should be as an example. You were world champions, you are one of the countries that have given the most to the world of football, and you have to be an example." the FIFA president exclaimed, laughing.

The beneficiaries of the project include not only AFA refereeing officials but also the local professional league and clubs; players, coaches, television operators and producers; sponsors, fans and various FIFA member associations, through training activities for visiting referees. "It is a place that will help Argentinian football, but also football around the world, and it must be shown. We are going to show what can be done in a country like Argentina, where football is much more than a passion, where football is life. This is of the highest level and it has to be said," President Infantino added. "This room is not only of the highest level, but it will give refereeing the necessary tool to establish justice," said Claudio Tapia. "It is going to help the human side of refereeing, to give transparency not only to Argentine and South American football, but to world football.”

After touring other areas of the complex, including the futsal gym, the beach soccer pitch and a new artificial turf pitch, Presidents Infantino and Tapia took questions from the press, in a talk moderated by former goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea, runner-up at Italy 1990. The event was also attended by former world champions from 1978 and 1986, including Ubaldo Fillol, Daniel Bertoni, Jorge Omar Larrosa, Alberto Tarantini, Jorge Burruchaga, Oscar Ruggeri, Oscar Garré and Nery Pumpido, who is also Deputy Secretary General of CONMEBOL. President Infantino described them all as "legends of world football".

After the press conference, which lasted almost an hour and in which the FIFA President responded to questions on all matters raised, the former world champions and Tapia presented Infantino with an Argentina jersey, with the image of Diego Maradona in the number 10 and the legend "1960 – ♾. ETERNAMENTE #graciasdiego”. 

Among those present were also members of Argentina's national team back-room staff, including former World Cup players Roberto Ayala, Javier Mascherano, Pablo Aimar and Diego Placente; Matías Lucuíx, who has just finished runner-up at the FIFA Futsal World Cup; and Federico Beligoy, the National Director of Refereeing. During the press conference, President Infantino once again highlighted the works that, with funds from the Forward programme, the AFA is carrying out on its premises. "It's the first time I've been here and it's exceptional. It is a place where football is truly lived, where emotions are experienced. I am sure that all Argentines will be very proud of this new facility.”