Football Association of Malawi (FAM) says it will support Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) resolution to back Fifa president Gianni Infantino’s bid for a fresh mandate to lead the world soccer governing body.
During its general assembly held at the weekend in Johannesburg, South Africa, Cosafa unanimously reaffirmed its support as a bloc for Infantino ahead of the presidential election slated for June this year.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu, who is also a Fifa Council member, said Malawi and as well as Africa in general, have “benefited a lot” under the Swiss lawyer’s first term of office.
“Infantino is charismatic and visionary. He has transformed Fifa starting with the image because when he took over, the image was battered as a result of scandals that were there.
“He has also transformed member associations in terms of development and infrastructure and, more importantly, he has doubled funding for member associations,” said the FAM president in justifying the association’s support for the Fifa president.
“He is also giving subsidy to struggling member associations, including national teams’ travel.”
Nyamilandu also said increasing the number of teams at the World Cup from 24 to 32 has given a chance to more African teams to qualify for the global showpiece.
Cosafa president Phillip Chiyangwa is quoted by The Herald of Zimbabwe as having said: “For the period that Infantino has been in power, he has not only spearheaded development of the game, but also brought about unity.
“There is much more money that is coming from Fifa into the coffers of the organisations like Cosafa and direct into the associations for growth and development and we have witnessed a lot of that during his time.
“We believe we are poised for more growth and that is why it is important to support him and I am happy that the entire Cosafa has also seen it fit to throw our weight behind him.”
On his part, CAF president Ahmad Ahmad is quoted by Skysport as having said that the Swiss football administrator had the backing of Africa in his pursuit of an extended tenure.
“It is not CAF that decided that Africa supports Infantino for another term, but associations expressed their willingness to support him because of the reforms and positive changes he has brought about in football.
“Every association in Africa was present in this meeting,” he added. “It is the majority of Africa which has decided, and we as the CAF leadership cannot say no.
“Each of the associations showed that they want to support Infantino independently and [they] actually sent letters to CAF expressing their support.”
“Infantino continues to make football better as a leader and supports a lot of our development projects in Africa.”
The Fifa president, who was elected in February 2016, announced last year that he would seek re-election. The elections will take place during the Fifa Congress in Paris in June.
“I want another term because I have embarked on several reforms,” Infantino said during a CAF Extraordinary Assembly. “I believe in what I do for football and will continue to do it with my best effort.”
However, an official endorsement from CAF has previously proven no guarantee of votes for presidential candidates, with many African associations breaking ranks in past elections.
No other candidate has yet declared interest to stand.
Embracing the video assistant referee (VAR)—which was resisted for years before he took over— is also viewed as a feat for Infantino.
Transforming Fifa’s financial position by setting up transparency and accountability measures and creating a tender evaluation in choosing World Cup hosts, are also seen as some of his achievements. n