Former Manchester City and Switzerland midfielder Gelson Fernandes will take a role at world football’s governing body Fifa to help develop the game in Africa. Born in Praia, Cape Verde, Fernandes will become director of member associations of Africa on 1 August.
The 35-year-old will be tasked with strengthening the development of African associations through Fifa’s Forward Programme. The scheme aims to provide countries with “tailor-made support” via investment in operational costs, construction of facilities and other projects.
“It’s a big honour and I’m very proud to join Fifa,” Fernandes said. “I am an African and if you get an offer like this, you must do it because it is a way of giving something back to Africa as an African. “I see it as my obligation to work for Africa and its football. This mission that I will start in August includes all aspects around my roots and this continent, showing my gratitude and support and giving my all for African football.”
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Gelson Fernandes, who holds the position of vice-president at Swiss club FC Sion, scored two goals in 67 international appearances. He will take on the role previously held by Swiss-Congolese Veron Mosengo-Omba, who is now general secretary of the Confederation of African Football (Caf). Fernandes, who also had spells in Switzerland, France, Italy, Portugal and Germany during his playing career, is ready to tackle the challenge of raising standards in Africa.
“We will look for solutions to constantly improve the situation,” he said. “Everybody has to be involved. This continent has incredible potential. I come from this continent; I am one of the many stories of this continent. “Football can change the lives of so many people. Football can do so much; it has a lot of power. I will give everything with all my heart. It’s a great challenge and one that I am proud to accept.”
Fifa president Gianni Infantino said he was “delighted” to welcome Gelson Fernandes to the Zurich-based organization.
“Gelson had a fantastic career as a footballer, and the experience he gained will be important to carry out his tasks to the best of his ability,” Infantino added.
“I have no doubt that Gelson will do some excellent work for us.”