The two leaders were conferred the award during CAF President’s Outstanding Achievements Award Ceremony on the sidelines of the 73rd Congress of the World’s Football Governing Body (FIFA) taking place in Kigali.
The event took place at Kigali Serena Hotel on Tuesday 14th March 2023.
It was attended by President Kagame, representative of King Mohammed VI and Minister of National Education and Sports Chakib Benmoussa, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Presidents from a number of Confederations, Football Presidents from the 54 CAF Member Associations and CAF Executive Committee members.
A number of top African legends were in attendance including Black Stars’ Asamoah Gyan, Cameroonian legend in women’s football Gaelle Enganamouit, South African record-breaking women footballer Portia Modise and compatriot Amanda Dlamini, Senegal’s Khalilou Fadiga, DR Congo’s Herita Ilunga, Indomitable Lion’s Pierre Webo, former South Africa captain Lucas Radebe, Ghana’s Kwadwo Asamoah, Nigeria’s Super Falcons legend Perpetua Nkwocha.
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino said that the awards are bestowed to the two leaders as outstanding personalities for their incredible contribution to the development of football.
The award for the King of Morocco was received by Minister Chakib Benmoussa
who revealed that his country will partner with Spain to host the World Cup in 2030.
President Kagame expressed deepest thanks for the award which is among things people receive unexpectedly.
The Head of State said that football was among things that played a significant role in the country’s history even during the Liberation Struggle.
“This country for which you are honourable guests has had its history. We have been able to draw a lot of lessons from that history. One of the things that helped us to go through those extremely challenging circumstances was football,” he noted.
Kagame explained that few months before the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, there was a lot of fighting and sectarianism where sports, particularly football was ‘one of the things that people clung to that kept bringing them together.
“I remember when we had ceased fire, and the fighting parties had ceased to do that, one of the things that were immediately thought about was football,” he noted.
The President observed that progress has been done for the development of football in Rwanda but insisted that there are still areas of improvements.
He however expressed optimism that Rwanda will do more on the support of FIFA and CAF.
“We are still not yet where we want to be but with your presence here, the efforts and promises made through CAF and FIFA an fall friends around, we should be very soon where we want to be and we are following in the footsteps of these other brothers and sisters of our Africa who already making it to that high level of global standing,” said Kagame.
The Head of State congratulated Morocco for its performance which reached semi-finals of the last FIFA World Cup in Doha, Qatar.
Morocco lost to Croatia 2-1 in the fight for third place in the World Cup.
“Africa has talent, there’s no doubt about that. But our best players should not always need to move abroad to unleash their full potential. We should work towards making sure that what takes them out there, can be achieved while here. That is why the work being done in Africa by CAF and FIFA is so important,” said Kagame.
“Morocco at the World Cup was a good example of what is possible. So, we should be able to emulate that and it should inspire us to do better, all of us who play and like football. Citizens of our countries are inevitably part of this and we want to make them feel happy and also benefit from that,” he added.
President Kagame receives the award at a time when the 73rd FIFA Congress is taking place in Kigali City. During the congress, FIFA President Gianni Infantino will be elected to extend presidency on 16th March 2023.