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Football fed doing ‘excellent job’ in youth development: FIFA chief Infantino

FIFA president Gianni Infantino speaks at the Executive Football Summit held in Phnom Penh on Friday as FFC vice president Khiev Sameth (left) and general secretary May Tola look on. In Sopheng
FIFA president Gianni Infantino speaks at the Executive Football Summit held in Phnom Penh on Friday as FFC vice president Khiev Sameth (left) and general secretary May Tola look on. In Sopheng

Football fed doing ‘excellent job’ in youth development: FIFA chief Infantino

FIFA President Gianni Infantino hailed the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) as “doing an excellent job” in its development of youth football programmes, as FIFA’s Executive Football Summit in Phnom Penh wound down on Friday.

After the one-day meeting held at the capital’s Sofitel Hotel, the Swiss-Italian, who flew into the Kingdom on Thursday evening on his first visit to the country, heaped praise on the efforts of
the FFC in its youth development programmes across the Kingdom.

With FFC youth development programmes in 25 provinces and cities, the FIFA president said: “The Cambodian Football Association is doing an excellent job in terms of football development in the country, with the new projects we’ve been discussing as well as the philosophies we want to develop boys’ and girls’ football. They are working hard with their objectives in the run-up to the SEA Games in 2023 [which Cambodia will host].”

The FFC brought in its new development programme in 2017 in order to find talented players for the future, with at least one academy planned to be built in each province.

According to FFC vice-president Khiev Sameth, FIFA has increased its support budget for the Kingdom from $250,000 to $1,250,000 per year.

“[At the Summit] we also discussed our football development program called the Forward Program, in which we are investing $1.4 billion worldwide over four years,” Infantino said. “[At FIFA] we are exchanging experiences and best practices between member associations in order to learn from each other.”

'Every right to dream'

Infantino went on to say that Asean has every right to dream of hosting the World Cup as regional countries plan a joint bid for football’s showpiece tournament.

The head of FIFA said: “I have been hearing that there are some ideas for [a] 2034 [bid]. Southeast Asia has a population of 600 million, a big majority of who are football crazy, and for this reason I think Southeast Asia has the full right to dream big and to have ambitions.”

But he cautioned that hosting a World Cup is a big challenge and bidders should consider organising a Youth World Cup beforehand.

Infantino said: “Of course, organizing a World Cup is a big undertaking, it’s a huge event and there are many steps that have to be made before a World Cup can be organised, but [the Asean bidders] should consider hosting a youth or women’s competition [to gain experience] before [bidding for] the main competition.”

According to FFC vice-president Sameth, Southeast Asia has set up a committee to organise a future World Cup bid.

Infantino told reporters of the purpose of the Summit Series: “With the new way of working at FIFA, we want to present the topics we are studying to all our member associations . . . to discuss [the issues] with them before we take decisions.”

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