Infantino rejects 'colonialism' criticism
CAIRO: FIFA president Gianni Infantino has rejected comments that the global soccer body has taken a "colonialist" attitude towards African football and its governing organisation CAF (Confederation of African Football).
FIFA last month took the unprecedented move of announcing it would jointly administer African football with CAF and would send it its Senegalese secretary general Fatma Samoura on a ninth-month secondment to overhaul the African body.
The move followed corruption allegations against CAF president Ahmad Ahmad which he has denied.
Some African officials have opposed the move while former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, in a recent interview with the BBC, described it as a "new aspect of colonialism".
Blatter has been banned from football for six years for ethics violations during his presidency. He denies wrongdoing.
"I have heard about colonialism, that FIFA is colonising Africa again," Infantino told CAF's general assembly on Thursday, adding that he was "puzzled" by the remarks.
"What does it mean, colonialism? I don't know. It's not part of my vocabulary.
"I know what it means to work, to team up, to roll up your sleeves, to go on the pitch and help and that is what we are doing," he added. "(Samoura's) heart is beating for Africa and we all suffer when we see what is going on here."
Infantino said that it was important that African football had competitions where "people trust the organisation, where the stadium is secure and it is safe, where matches are not manipulated,
where people trust the
referees — these are some of the issues that African football is facing."