By Oluwashina Okeleji
BBC Football Writer, Nigeria
Football’s world governing body Fifa and the French Football Federation (FFF) have signed an agreement aimed at developing football in Francophone Africa.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino and FFF boss Noël Le Graët hope the deal will contribute to the Fifa “Forward Program” in terms of technical support. “This agreement is a first for Fifa, it is symbolic and important, it is an example to be followed by others, “Infantino said at the signing of the agreement in Paris.
“France works a lot for the whole world, the French Football Federation opens its doors to other federations and helps those who need it, which is the essence of what we have to do in the past at Fifa and in this global sport that is football.”
The French colonial empire in sub-Saharan Africa collapsed more than 56 years ago, but ties have remained strong between France and Africa, and this latest agreement is viewed as part of a drive to raise standards in the sport.
The French Federation’s director general Florence Hardouin, added that they would “greatly help the development” of football in Francophone Africa via this “collaboration agreement” signed with Fifa.
Despite obvious football talent on the continent of Africa, only three nations Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana have reached the quarterfinals of the Fifa World Cup since the tournament began.
Former French colonies Cameroon and Senegal achieved that lofty height in 1990 and 2002.
Interestingly, France’s 2018 World Cup victory was widely celebrated across Africa, because there are at least 14 members of the team with African roots.
Samuel Umtiti was born in Cameroon and Steve Mandanda in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Paul Pogba’s parents are from Guinea, N’Golo Kante’s from Mali. Blaise Matuidi’s parents are from Angola and came to France via DR Congo – and Kylian Mbappe has an Algerian mother and a Cameroonian father.