ZURICH: FIFA secretary-general General Jérôme Valcke has underscored the organisation’s support of African football and expressed a desire for an African team to reach the FIFA World Cup™ Final during a three-day seminar in Johannesburg, which was attended by dignitaries from 26 member associations from across the continent.

Chaired by South Africa 2010 CEO and South African Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan, the convention, which concluded on Thursday, succeeded in raising awareness on reforms and standards in football governance, addressing the problems faced by African countries and ways of combatting them, and optimising the benefit of FIFA’s development programmes.

“All the programmes we will discuss at this seminar, we can guarantee them to you until 2022, and this is both powerful and remarkable,” said Valcke as it got underway. “We will make sure that you can improve and develop, that you can professionalise your leagues, that you can develop grassroots football for everyone who wants to play football in Africa. We will help you get better, and we want an African team to soon reach the FIFA World Cup Final.”

Suketu Patel, the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) president and a CAF vice-president, thanked FIFA and urged African countries to strive towards improvement. “We must be grateful to FIFA,” he said.

“Each African member association has received around USD 6m in the last decade. This raises the question: What have we done with the opportunities that we have been given? Did we seize the opportunity to improve structurally, or were we contempt to still do the same as before but more extensively? We must show our gratitude to FIFA by doing everything we can to all become, one day, self-sustainable and accountable.”

Sindisiwe Mabaso-Koyana, the deputy chairwoman of FIFA’s Audit & Compliance Committee, looked ahead to the FIFA Congress, which makes decisions relating to FIFA’s governing statutes and the method by which they are implemented and applied: “In football, in FIFA, every decision comes from you, its members, at the Congress. We need to stand to public scrutiny because, even if FIFA is not a public company, everything it does is public and touches the public area. So we must be transparent, and everyone in football must have the same treatment and receive the same conditions.”

Valcke passionately went on stress FIFA’s commitment to developing the sport across the globe. “To those who doubt or criticise us, I can say that FIFA is doing a lot, and is doing very well,” he said. “We have a stronger organisation, football is strong, and football is strong. All the commitments we are going to make for you, in terms of development support, we can guarantee them until 2022.

“To those who say we are not about football, I can say that we, at FIFA, are breathing football every day – we work to develop football all day long. I am proud of what we do around the world for the greater good of football.”

Presidents, secretary generals and technical directors from the governing bodies of the following member associations attended the seminar: Angola, Botswana, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Lybia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.