FIFA and CAF Presidents attend Senegal stadium inauguration

  • 50,000 capacity stadium was inaugurated in Senegal

  • FIFA President and CAF President delivered speeches at opening ceremony

  • FIFA Legend Khalilou scored the first ever goal to the delight of fans

FIFA President Gianni Infantino and CAF President Patrice Motsepe attended the official opening ceremony of Stade de Senegal, a state of the art stadium located in Diamniadio, 30km from Dakar, presided over by President of Senegal, Macky Sall. The inauguration of the 50,000 capacity venue was made all the more special by a dazzling line up of Senegalese football legends, who took on some of Africa’s most cherished football legends, in the first ever match to be played at the stadium.

Before the competition got underway, Head of State Macky Sall addressed spectators, expressing his joy at being able to officially open the stadium shortly after the victory of the Lions of Teranga, the Senegalese national football team, in the CAF African Cup of Nations. He also revealed that the venue would bear the name of his predecessor Abdoulaye Wade, in honour of his important place in Senegalese society. In his address CAF’s President Dr. Patrice Motsepe spoke about the importance of the stadium for Senegal and Africa. This was followed by an address from the FIFA President who said: “This star shines bright for Senegal all over the world,” whilst pointing to the famous green star on the Senegal national football jersey. “What an honour to be here today, and what emotion!” The game action got underway with Senegal’s own Khalilou Fadiga scoring the first-ever goal at the new stadium, much to the delight of local fans who were ecstatic with joy. The African Legends team didn’t hang around and Nigeria’s Augustin Jay Jay Azuka Okotcha scored the equaliser goal that saw the exhibition game end on a final score of 1-1.

Distinguished guests at the event included Adama Barrow, President of The Gambia, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, President of Guinea-Bissau, George Weah, President of Liberia, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey. Heads of State and football fans were then treated to a celebration of Senegalese culture as part of the inauguration ceremony. Notable acts included a performance of Les Kumpa, a group of mythical and mystical forest figures dressed in straw, traditionally seen in Senegal and Gambia who celebrate nature, sharing and community. Internationally acclaimed Senegalese artist Youssou N'Dour concluded the ceremony with a performance that saw him joined by traditional wrestlers and musical artists including: Baba Maal, Ismael Lo and Waly Seck.

Speaking at the conclusion of the event FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “Tonight’s inauguration of Stade du Senegal/Abdoulaye Wade Stadium was simply outstanding. Senegal’s victory in the recent AFCON is proof of this country’s love of & natural talent for, football. I look forward to seeing the upcoming stars of Teranga taking to the pitch here in the future & hearing the lions roar!” The new stadium is scheduled to host Senegal’s CAF Third Round qualifying match against Egypt on 29 March to determine qualification for the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Earlier in the day, before attending the stadium inauguration, President Infantino and President Motsepe had attended a state luncheon at the Presidential Palace in the Plateau district of Dakar. The function was attended by visiting heads of state and members of the FIFA and CAF delegations including: FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, President of the Senegalese Football Association and CAF Vice President Augustin Senghor, CAF Secretary General Véron Mosengo Omba and FIFA Chief of Global Football Development Arsene Wenger.