By Euan McTear
In the middle of March, WFS Africa will welcome some of the most high-profile directors in world football to Durban. From France to Argentina to various African nations, football’s decision-makers are coming to town to share their expertise and to offer an insight into their daily challenges and accomplishments.
They’ll be doing so at the inaugural World Football Summit Africa, to be held at the Durban International Convention Centre on March 17th and 18th. Just as with every other World Football Summit event, with previous editions having been held in Madrid and Kuala Lumpur, professionals from a range of backgrounds in the football industry will meet in one place for two days of networking, talks, workshops and more.
The speakers boast a wealth of experience on the main topics currently affecting the football industry, from digital change to the structure of competitions to “sportainment” and fan engagement. Excitingly, there will be at least nine club directors from six different countries across three continents who’ll be up on the stage sharing their thoughts and opinions.
Former Argentina international and current Estudiantes Chairman Juan Sebastián Verón will be there to speak about the Argentine and South American football scene and he’ll also be able to offer unique insight on stadium redevelopment, given that Estudiantes recently reopened their Estadio Jorge Luis Hirschi and were awarded the EDGE Environmental Certification of sustainable construction, granted by the International Financial Corporation of the World Bank. It’s the first stadium in the world to receive this special certification.
Laurent Colette, the General Director at Olympique Marseille, works 10,000 kilometres away from Verón, yet he too will be in the same building in Durban to share stories from his day-to-day operations in charge of a Champions League-calibre club. Given that Olympique have a unique connection with Africa, having opened academies on the continent and having identified African fans as a priority, Colette’s insight will be particularly eye-opening.
Logically, there will be several directors from South African clubs who’ll be able to discuss the specific challenges that their institutions face. From Durban-based Premier Soccer League side AmaZulu FC, the CEO will be in attendance. Pitso Mosimane, the current Head Coach of Mamelodi Sundowns, and Maximilian Grunewald, the General Manager of Cape Town City FC, will also be speaking, as will Janine van Wyk, the South African women’s national team captain and the founder of JVW Football Club, a women’s team based in Gauteng.
From slightly further afield, WFS Africa will be welcoming Senzo Mbatha, the CEO ot Tanzania’s Simba Sport Club, Benoit You, the General Director of Côte d’Ivoire’s ASEC Mimosas and Saer Seck, the President of Senegal’s Diambars FC.
These are just some of the examples of the club directors who’ll be in attendance at this upcoming event, while there will also be professionals from other organisations that are involved in football, including FIFA’s Secretary General Fatma Samoura, the Sierra Leone Football Association’s President Isha Johansen and LaLiga’s President Javier Tebas, LaLiga’s South Africa Managing Director Marcos Pelegrín and LaLiga’s Head of International Development Óscar Mayo.