Over the past seven years, hundreds of football development projects have been completed around the world, from Tahiti to Dominica and Iceland to Lesotho, as part of the FIFA Forward Development programme which was introduced shortly after Gianni Infantino was elected FIFA President in 2016. Based on the principle that FIFA’s revenues are re-invested in football development around the world, FIFA Forward funds have been used to construct national training centres, refurbish stadiums, build pitches, organise competitions and grow women’s football around the world.
Funding is available to all 211 member associations and the projects are tailor-made to meet the needs of each country. The third cycle, FIFA Forward 3.0, began this year and will provide each member association with up to USD 8 million to fund projects over a four-year period – a roughly seven-fold increase since 2016.
This year, it was decided to introduce the FIFA Forward Awards to recognise some of the outstanding projects and highlight examples the benefits the programme can bring to a given country. The inaugural awards were open to European member associations and focused exclusively on infrastructure projects. Twenty-one member associations entered the contest, and they were informed of the results on May 24 with Armenia taking first place followed by Andorra and Moldova.
“The wide range of applications submitted for evaluation truly reflected the diversity and scope of infrastructure projects being carried out across Europe and were a clear testament and reminder of the incredible impact that your work is having on football development at all levels,” said Kenny-Jean Marie, FIFA Chief Member Associations Officer.
The Moldovan Football Association (FMF) was the first to be presented with its award at its General Assembly on May 26. It was recognised for the Multi-Purpose Beach Soccer stadium, named La Izvor, in Chisinau which has helped transfer beach soccer in the country.
The stadium, which holds 1,100 people, was built in a five-month period during 2020 and is multi-purpose as it stages beach sports in spring and summer and can be converted to an artificial pitch in autumn and winter. FIFA Forward provided funding of USD 2,053,007 with the remainder, USD 230,063, coming from the FMF. The stadium hosted the Euro Beach Soccer League Division B tournaments in both 2021 and 2022, with Moldova winning both and they will now compete in Division A in 2023.