Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Patrice Motsepe has awarded Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and King Mohammed IV of Morocco the Outstanding Achievement award in recognition of their contributions in advancing African football.
The award was handed over to both leaders in Kigali on Tuesday evening by both Dr Motsepe and FIFA president Gianni Infantino in an event attended by Rwanda’s sports officials, CAF executive committee, CAF member association presidents and other prominent football figures from across the continent.
The event is one among many that have gathered world football leaders in Kigali for the ongoing FIFA Congress this week.
Infantino applauded both leaders for their outstanding roles in advancing football in Africa.
“We are here to celebrate outstanding leaders and their work for football. Young children playing football need leaders who are strong to inspire and invest in football like President Kagame and King Mohammed IV who have transformed football in different ways in Africa,” Infantino said.
Rwanda sports investment
For the past few years, Rwanda has invested in sports infrastructure as it positions itself as Africa’s sports hub, hosting major competitions. The country seeks to raise $800 million in sports tourism by next year.
Rwanda also invested Rwf160 million ($145,000) in 2021 to upgrade Amahoro stadium, increasing its seating capacity from 25,000 to 45,000. The revamping is set to be completed next year.
President Kagame reflected on the role football played in reuniting Rwandans after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
“Even after the tragedy, some of these young Rwandans wanted to play football. When we took over, among the many things we wanted to invest in was football and we enabled our young people play it,” Kagame said.
Read: AKAMANZI: Sportswashing? No. Rwandans benefit from the business of sport
Morocco WC run
In Morocco, following the Moroccan national football team’s fairy tale run at the 2022 World Cup up to semi-finals, King Mohammed IV welcomed the Atlas Lions with a big reception at the royal palace in Rabat to celebrate their achievements in Qatar. The king offered wissams (royal medals) to the players.
Receiving the award on behalf of King Mohammed IV, Moroccan Minister of Education Chakib Benmoussa said upon reaching the 2022 World Cup semi-finals, Morocco is working to integrate football into education. The minister also announced Morocco’s bid to host the World Cup 2030.
“I would like to announce that the Kingdom of Morocco has decided, together with Spain and Portugal, to present a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup,” Mr Benmoussa said.
The joint bid is the first of its kind that would bring together African and European countries as joint hosts of the World Cup.
Read: EYAKUZE: Is Morocco African? You decide, but I’ll judge you on your choice
Next on the agenda will be a delegation football tournament on Wednesday at the Nyamirambo Kigali Stadium. The renovated Nyamirambo Stadium, now renamed after the late legendary Brazilian footballer Pele, is slated for inauguration during the event. The stadium’s capacity was increased to 15,000 in a revamp partly funded by FIFA to the tune of over $350,000.
The 73rd FIFA Congress kicked off on March 13 and will end on March 17, 2023. It brings together about 2,000 delegates from 211 member associations and other football stakeholders.
Infantino is also expected to seek re-election in the FIFA congress.