Internacionales

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Local football gets a home

The announcement was made yesterday during FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s official visit to this country where he paid courtesy calls to President Anthony Carmona and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

At a media conference at the Ato Boldon Stadium yesterday, Minister of Sport Darryl Smith revealed that the TT FA will, after 109 years of existence, have a home to call their own.

The previously talked about TT FA Technical Development Centre will also be constructed at the venue, and Infantino, Smith and TT FA president David John-Williams turned the sod to start the venture.

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John-Williams later confirmed that the entire project will be funded by FIFA, the global governing body for football.

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“We’re finalising (plans) to make the Ato Boldon (Stadium) the next home of the TT FA, the next home of football,” said Smith.

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“They will be moving their offices here within the next week. They’ll have full access to the Stadium with regards to training.” Infantino was decked in a white t-shirt and blue short pants, in preparation for a subsequent friendly match at the Stadium between a FIFA XI and a Government XI which finished 5-0 in favour of the former.

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“I was told (to) come here to play a football match and now they put me to make a speech,” joked the FIFA president.

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However, he pointed out, “I’ve seen the passion in the country for football. We have to put football as a high priority. We have to be accountable for what we do.” Earlier, upon his arrival to this country at the Piarco International Airport, Infantino expressed his willingness to assist in the growth of football in the CONCACAF region.

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The 47-year-old, who was elected FIFA president on February 26 2016, said: “We have a new FIFA now.

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We have a new CONCACAF (and) a new Trinidad and Tobago Football Association.” FIFA was embroiled in a major corruption scandal in 2015 when several officials were indicted by the United States Department of Justice for a number of charges, including wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering.

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Then FIFA president Joseph Sepp Blatter was subsequently banned from partaking in any FIFA activity for eight years.

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Infantino said he is keen on improving the image of football, especially in CONCACAF.

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“We’re working in a clean, transparent (and) open way,” said Infantino. “We are accountable for our actions. We want to focus on the game of football because it has been lost a little bit. It’s important we come back to our core mission which is development.

“We are doing a lot, we are investing a lot,” he continued. “We have increased the investment in the CONCACAF region, on a yearly basis, from US$19.5 million to US$60.5 million, more than triple our investment in the region.

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We’ve increased the number of teams participating in the World Cup, as of 2026, in CONCACAF (to six teams).” This is Infantino’s second visit to Trinidad.

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“The last time that I came was as a candidate for the FIFA presidency (on January 2016) trying to convince my friend David to support me and support my vision and my plan for FIFA,” he said.

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