Perhaps done in a bid to endear himself to the continent’s voting body, Fifa President Sepp Blatter says world football must “respect” Africa.
Blatter, seeking re-election in May, recently attended the Confederation of African Football congress this past Tuesday.
“The power of football is arguably even more significant in Africa than the rest of the world, because it symbolises a common denominator for all peoples, nations and tribes,” said Blatter, who is believed to have the backing of the continent.
Blatter has also called for tougher punishment for teams and associations found guilty of racism.
The 79-year-old Swiss feels monetary sanctions are increasingly ineffective.
“We have to use our rules to suspend teams, to take away their points or even to relegate them if racism continues,” he said.
And Blatter reminded African countries of extensive financial support to the continent’s football associations from world football’s governing body as he opened the congress. He said Fifa had spent $700m (£470m) on various programmes across Africa.
“We should maybe spend more to prepare a better future for the children,” he added, mirroring the promises of his three rivals in the Fifa election for more financial assistance for member countries.
Tuesday’s Caf congress was also attended by Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan, Dutch Football Association President Michael van Praag and former Portugal international Luis Figo, who are all standing against Blatter, but they were not permitted to address the assembly.