Madrid, Dec 19 (IANS/EFE) FIFA said Wednesday it has invested $200 million this year in soccer-development activities involving all of its 209 member associations, including “landmark initiatives” in Somalia, Afghanistan and Palestine.
The latest beneficiary of FIFA’s development projects was its newest member association, South Sudan, where courses for referees and coaches were held in Juba over the past two months.
FIFA’s development committee approved 46 new Goal projects in 2013 for a total of 640 since the creation of that initiative in 1998. Furthermore, 28 member associations joined PERFORMANCE (FIFA’s soccer management programme), which has been implemented in 155 countries to date.
FIFA also continued to diversify its development programmes in 2013 with the approval of 22 projects for less privileged member associations and two income-generation initiatives.
Soccer’s international governing body, meanwhile, described as a “further milestone” the approval in March of the General Regulations for FIFA Development Programmes by the FIFA Executive Committee, followed by a general consultation process that began in September in Auckland.
“2013 was a special year since we started a very important process in implementing the new general regulations for development programmes,” FIFA Director of Member Associations and Development Thierry Regenass said.
In August, FIFA completed its first grassroots course in Somalia since 1986, one of 179 such initiatives carried out by the Zurich-based organisation over the past 12 months.
A few days later, Afghanistan hosted a game against Pakistan that was played on an artificial field funded by Kabul’s FIFA Goal project. The contest was Afghanistan’s first international home match since 2003.
Palestine also was a focal point of FIFA’s efforts, with President Sepp Blatter inaugurating three Goal projects during a visit in July.
Cape Verde and Cuba (countries that have benefited from a total of seven Goal projects) made news in 2013 by qualifying for the first time for the African Cup of Nations and the FIFA U-20 World Cup, respectively.