Saudi FA keeps building influence in Africa with Mauritania the latest to sign on

June 14 – It’s the 17th MoU the Saudi Arabian Football Association (SAFF) have signed. The relationship with the Mauritanian Football Federation (FFRIM) will focus on traditional areas of cooperation, including but not limited to coach education, training for referees and support for the women’s game. 

“We have experienced first-hand the knowhow of our Saudi colleagues not only in football development but also in hosting football competitions, as we just took part in the Beach Soccer Arab Cup and the Futsal Championships held in the Kingdom,” said the President of the Mauritanian Football Federation (FFRIM) Ahmed Yahya (pictured left) in a statement.

“We look forward to increasing our football exchanges with Saudi Arabia for the benefit of our youngsters.”

A vice-president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and an executive committee member of the organisation, Yahya is something of a power broker in African football. In the 2021 CAF presidential elections, he ultimately stood down together with other candidates to hand the crown to South African billionaire miner Patrice Motsepe, but Yahya will be keen to show the development of the game in his country. In 2021, Mauritania hosted the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations. They also upgraded their national stadium.

His Saudi counterpart Yasser Al Misehal is increasingly becoming a powerful figure as well. He recently won a seat on the FIFA Council as the representative of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and he is at the core of Saudi Arabia’s drive to become a prominent player in the world game.

Al Mihesal (pictured right) said: “We are delighted to work closer with the Mauritanian Football Federation, especially after the exemplary work they have done the last few years under the leadership and good governance of President Yahya, as evidenced by the back-to-back qualifications of their national teams to major continental competitions, as well as the quality of infrastructure they have established in their country”.

Last week, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund nationalised the country’s four biggest clubs. It was a landmark move to bolster the Arab Kingdom’s investment in the game. PIF, a $600 billion fund linked to the controversial Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, will acquire a 75% stake in the four marquee clubs. The domestic league is attracting veteran European stars and has the ambition to become a top-ten league in the world. In the long run, Saudi Arabia has the ambition to stage the World Cup.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1720819657labto1720819657ofdlr1720819657owedi1720819657sni@i1720819657tnuk.1720819657ardni1720819657mas1720819657

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