FIFA has spent $70 million on helping to develop soccer in Africa as a legacy from the 2010 World Cup, but proper governance is needed if the sport is to thrive on the continent, officials said on Wednesday.
FIFA Development Director, Thierry Regenass said professional management of the game in Africa was often lacking and needed to be improved if soccer was to grow.
“Professionalism is an essential aspect to create the basis for the future,” he told a news briefing in Johannesburg.
“We need to invest in not infrastructure but grassroots, youth and professional leagues. This is our objective over the next years because it is through this aspect we will have vibrant national teams.”
Africa’s first hosting of the World Cup finals has failed to deliver expected improvement in the competitiveness of its representatives at the finals.
Ghana is the only one of the six African sides to progress past the first round at the tournament in South Africa.
FIFA said it had spent a total of $39 million on building artificial turf fields in 48 countries with three more still to be completed. It said it had also spent a further $14.5 million on training and equipment for African countries in a special development programme, first implemented in 2006.
Each African country also receives an annual grant of $250,000 from FIFA but Regenass said some diverse sources of income were needed if the African game was to grow.
“In Africa, there are usually two sources of income. The government puts money into the national team and FIFA with its financial assistance programme. There needs to be diversified sources of income to develop African football.
“There is a strong need for a better youth championships and for the national leagues, which are the heartbeat of football in Africa,” he said.