PARIS (Reuters) – FIFA and the French Development Agency (AFD) have pledged ahead of the June 7-July 7 World Cup in France to promote women’s soccer in Africa on a long-term basis, the governing body’s president Gianni Infantino said on Tuesday.
“I am happy that today, another strategic alliance has been forged to help use football as a platform for positive change in society,” Infantino said after signing the cooperation agreement with AFD Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Remy Rioux.
“This landmark agreement between FIFA and the AFD aims to make a lasting difference to communities around the world.
“It is also to ensure that football continues to play an even more important role in sustainable development, educating and empowering the next generation to help build a fairer, more peaceful society.”
Rioux said: “What better way to build a world in common than by leveraging the unifying power of football?
“I am extremely proud that the AFD and FIFA are today launching a unique partnership to promote gender equality and foster education in Africa through football.
“As the Women’s World Cup is about to kick off in France, I am confident that the AFD-FIFA alliance will help to showcase women’s sport as a strategic development objective in Africa.”
The ceremony was attended by France president Emmanuel Macron, former international football greats Marcel Desailly, Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o and Bernard Lama as well as former French female player Candice Prévost.
Macron underscored that equality between women and men was the great national objective of his five-year term in office as president, adding that “school is where we build the society we need and want to see”
The 24-nation Women’s World Cup kicks off on Friday with hosts France taking on South Korea in Group A at the Parc Des Princes stadium in Paris.
Holders United States open their Group F campaign against Thailand in Reims on June 11. Africa’s three nations taking part in the event are Nigeria, South Africa and Cameroon.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)