NAN: FIFA President Gianni Infantino said on Monday that Africa would get additional two slots from the 2026 edition of the World Cup.
Infantino who said this in Abuja during his interaction with the newsmen noted that the idea was part of his vision to transform football in Africa.
“I promised few things during my campaign, the first one was reforms and the second one was that we should invest more in football development and this has already happened.
“We have increased the development fund by four for each member association which is a significant increase.
“I also promised that the Secretary-General shouldn’t be European as it was the case in the history of FIFA.
“And as you can see, Fatma Samoura, the Secretary-General is not European, she is African and this is long overdue for Africa. It’s about time facts follow words,’’ he said.
“As regards the expansion of the world with the number of slots for African countries as well as other countries in the world; I believe that there should be 40 teams for 2026 World Cup.
“Out of the eight more slots that will be added two should go to Africa.
“I will defend this because we are discussing this and as you know I am a democratically elected president, so, I have to speak and listen to everyone but I hope to convince everyone as well,’’ Infantino said.
The FIFA boss explained that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) would now get about 1.2 million dollars as development fee from FIFA as against the 300,000 dollars given by the previous administrations.
Infantino said that the money would never be enough for football development in the country but would go a long a way in repositioning football.
He urged football administrators to utilise the potential which had seen it win about four U-17 World Championships.
The FIFA president assured Nigerians that the world football governing body would assist the country in its quest to develop its football infrastructure.
“We need to create tailor-made projects; it is possible that Nigeria needs a proper stadium, a football headquarter and a technical centre.
“We will be ready to assist depending on the tailor-made project designed specifically for each individual association.
“We will make sure that what is in the contract of every football federation is implemented and practised and when we come back here in a few years, I will be able tell you what we have done.
“The fact that 18 presidents of national associations are here in Abuja to discuss with us on football development shows that there is a big belief within the football community that we are on the right track.
“What we have to do is to live with the reforms, to live with the transparency and most importantly to focus on football activity and that is why am here to speak with individual president,’’ he said.
Infantino also said that efforts were being made to ensure that clubs release their players to assist their individual countries to compete for medals during the Olympics football event.