This year’s edition of the biennial Under 20 FIFA World Cup held in New Zealand came to an end with Serbia beating Brazil in the final at the dying minutes of Extra time. The third place final saw two African teams playing each other, where Mali defeated Senegal 3-0.
All four African teams in the tournament reached playoffs (top 16). This is much better feat than in senior World Cup where Africa struggles to send even one team past group stage. Ghana is the only African team to win U20 World Cup, in 2005. They have also recorded two lost finals and one third place, as have Nigeria, but the latter lacks a championship. This year’s third place was the second for Mali, the first one dating back to 1999.
FIFA, the world governing body in football (soccer) has been under headlines last week. Despite being elected for yet another term as the FIFA president, Sepp Blatter resigned after only few days later due to mounting pressure over corruption cases. Blatter has made big steps helping to develop football in Africa, thus gaining almost unanimous support by African football federations.
Now that the Women’s World Cup held in Canada is kicking off, hopefully the sport prevails and off-field events stay in the background, despite the importance of ongoing investigations on FIFA. The number of teams participating the in the World Cup has been increased from 16 to 24, three of them from Africa (previously two), namely Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Cameroon.