Fifa president Infantino expected to be part of dignitaries at Sundowns vs Barcelona match

07 May 2018 - 14:00 By Nick Said
FIFA President Gianni Infantino attends the Italian Olympic Committee 'Collari D'Oro' Awards at Foro Italico on December 19, 2017 in Rome, Italy.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino attends the Italian Olympic Committee 'Collari D'Oro' Awards at Foro Italico on December 19, 2017 in Rome, Italy.
Image: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

The high-profile friendly between Mamelodi Sundowns and Barcelona on May 16 will be about much more than the action on the pitch with dignitaries from around the continent and beyond set to use the platform to push their various agendas.

The fixture is to be played at the FNB Stadium in Soweto in honour of the late former State President Nelson Mandela as part of the centenary celebrations to mark 100 years since the anti-Apartheid icon’s birth.

Aside from government dignitaries and regional leaders‚ the Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Ahmed has stated he will attend the game‚ while there are expected to a number of African football association presidents in attendance also.

Ahmed is keen to use the opportunity to lobby for Morocco to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup as they go head-to-head against a combined bid from Canada‚ Mexico and United States.

CAF have made it clear that they support Morocco as an ‘African bid’ and expect their associations‚ who make up 26 percent of FIFA’s total membership‚ to back the North African nation as one.

Ahmed will have the ear of many powerful association presidents on the continent and will view it as too good an opportunity to miss.

The decision on who will host the tournament will be made at the FIFA Congress to be staged in Moscow on June 13.

FIFA head Gianni Infantino could also use the opportunity to lobby support for his re-election when the presidency is next up for grabs in 2020.

Infantino has suggested he may attend the fixture‚ but has not yet committed to doing so‚ according to TimesLIVE sources.

Meanwhile‚ SAFA spokesman Dominic Chimhavi has dismissed claims that the fixture may not have the support of CAF.

“SAFA has been in touch with both FIFA and CAF with regards this game and everything is above board‚” Chimhavi said.

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