Gianni Infantino, President of the world football governing body (Fifa), has called for concerted efforts from all stakeholders if the battle against corruption is to be won.
Infantino, who was speaking in Kigali at the 4th edition the International Anti-Corruption Excellence (ACE) Awards on Monday, said FIFA was a cleaner body today than he found it over three years ago.
The event, which was taking place on the African continent for the first time, is organised under the auspices of His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, who was in Rwanda for the second time this year following his maiden visit in April.
President Paul Kagame, President Hage Geingob of Namibia and AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat also graced the ceremony.
Calling for teamwork in efforts to curb graft, Infantino cited team spirit and solidarity that normally characterise football teams which he said benefit the team – overriding personal weaknesses.
“Everyone is part of the team, some are good while others are bad, some are strong, others weak,” he said, adding “some are unfortunately corrupt, which makes the fight against corruption a fight for all.”
He paid tribute to Rwanda’s leadership and people, describing the country as an “example in so many things, including the fight against corruption.”
“I am happy to be back in Rwanda.”
Infantino, who was last in Rwanda during the 8th FIFA Council Meeting in October 2018, noted that corruption in FIFA is progressively being uprooted following scandals that rocked the institution in 2015, and, as a result, forced Sepp Blatter to step down as FIFA boss.
Today, he said, FIFA has gone a long way in regaining public trust.
"Nobody, including partners and banks, wanted to associate or be anywhere close with FIFA. I am proud to say that today, three and a half years later, FIFA is stronger and healthier than ever."
A series of scandals including bribery and match-fixing had not only tainted FIFA, but undermined trust in the game as well, he acknowledged.
Later, on Monday, Infantino held talks with the Minister for Sports, Aurore Mimosa Munyangaju, with whom they discussed FIFA football development programmes, particularly the “Football for School” initiative.