FIFA Forward’s primary objective is to help grow football in every corner of the globe. Income generated by football world’s governing, such as that sourced via the FIFA World Cup™, is channelled back into various forms of game-wide development.
FIFA Forward 2.0 is designed to provide tailor made solutions to local requirements and is based on the key principles of greater investment, impact and oversight.
The past year provided countless examples of funding for various FIFA Forward projects across a wide range of nations across all six confederations.
xemplifying the diversity of nations benefitting from the FIFA Forward is the world’s most populace continent, Asia. Significant strides are being made in the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan where a range of recent projects have been headlined by the inauguration of their first-ever football academy for boys at Changjiji in mid-2022 and, less than three months later, another major milestone was reached with the groundbreaking ceremony for the new BFF headquarters. It was a similar scenario for another ambitious football nation with the Philippines Football Federation’s hosting a high-profile groundbreaking ceremony for their new world-class facilities and headquarters in July.
FIFA Forward’s impact can have a more immediate impact on on-field development with notably Japan utilising some funding for their ever-impressive player production line. The annual Prince Takamado Trophy JFA U-18 Premier League has produced dozens of top players, including Qatar 2022 representative Gaku Shibasaki. Meanwhile Singapore’s FIFA-supported VAR introduction aided the development of Muhammad Taqi Aljaafari Bin Jahari with the highly-regarded referee featuring at Qatar 2022 as a Video Match Official.
African nations represented at Qatar 2022 have also benefitted from numerous projects of late. Cameroon’s National Technical Centre in Odza continues to grow under Cameroonian Football Association President, Indomitable Lions legend Samuel Eto’o. It is a similar story in Tunisia, with the FTF’s Technical Centre receiving a facelift, with the complex to be equipped with a sport and health unit and accommodation facilities.
Further afield a FIFA delegation travelled to Liberia and toured ongoing projects, namely the construction of new FA headquarters and refurbishment of Monrovia’s main arena, the Antoinette Tubman Stadium. In Sierra Leone, a three-year hiatus ended with new women’s Premier League established with a 12-team competition for the first time.
FIFA Forward funding can take many guises as was the case last month in the Concacaf region with all 22 Member Associations in the Caribbean at a workshop to receive information and tools to help implement FIFA’s flagship development programme. One such regional island nation to benefit is Barbados where pitches at the national stadium and national training centre are undergoing upgrades to replace existing pitches.
Cuba had dual reason for celebration in February by earning a FIFA Women’s World Cup™ qualifier home win on their brand new world-class all-weather pitch at the Estadio Santiago Maceo. In Puerto Rico, the first boys’ U-13, U-15 and U-17 competitions were conducted with thanks to financial and technical support from FIFA Forward.
A major project in Paraguay headlined the activity in South America where FIFA President Gianni Infantino attended the opening of a state-of-the-art high-performance training centre for women’s national teams. Meanwhile in Argentina, the first edition of the FIFA-funded Copa Federal took place, a women’s football tournament that brought together more than 400 clubs from 44 leagues across the country.
In Oceania, a major project has been incrementally opened in Vanuatu during the year with their new stadium and FA headquarters set to be official unveiled in early 2023. Meanwhile, works have commenced on a new football centre in the Papua New Guinea highlands, a key football heartland in PNG.
Several major activities featured in Europe, notably in Germany where a “once-in-a-century” project saw the opening of the hyper-modern 15 hectare DFB Campus in Frankfurt. There was a similarly new chapter across the border in Belgium where a brand-new headquarters for the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA), known as Proximus Basecamp, was officially opened in September.
In France, Forward funds have been directed to five-a side pitches, while Croatia, much like Japan, focussed on youth development with backing for their annual hosting of the international U-15 Vlatko Markovic Tournament.