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Kigali: Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President, joined Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF) President Issa Hayatou in signing an agreement in Rwanda’s capital Kigali on Wednesday, aimed at delivering sporting and social benefits.

The agreement was signed in the presence of the CAF Executive Committee Members, AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John and his counterpart at CAF, Hitcham El Amrani, and pledges co-operation on football and social development in the next four years.

Shaikh Salman, speaking in his role as AFC President, described the moment as ‘momentous’ as two great confederations ‘came together in the spirit of friendship and co-operation.’

He added: “Africa and Asia are two great continents. Two great football continents who have made a dramatic impact on the global football stage in this century.

“Both of us have staged highly successful FIFA World Cups – both of us have aspirations and expectations of staging future tournaments, not only the World Cup but also in women’s and age group competitions.

“Both Africa and Asia have produced a generation of outstanding players who have graced both our own and other international stages.

“Now this agreement will lay a permanent foundation to this great progress – it will underpin this development by our great two Confederations. It formalises existing ties within our regions. Our common purpose – our common goal - will allow us to draw on each other’s strengths.

“This Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will deliver a legacy of not only sporting but also cultural, social and educational benefits for both our continents and our Member Associations. Football has a unique opportunity to contribute to social cohesion, integration and participation across Asia and Africa.”

Work on the agreement began in May 2015 when the two Confederation General Secretaries met in Zurich. They have worked tirelessly ever since, and the MoU now provides for the sharing of information, experience, initiating high level competitions, as well as conducting joint technical development programmes.

It will cover areas such as coaching, refereeing, youth football, women's football, integrity, administration, marketing, media and innovative technologies.

Issa Hayatou, the CAF President, added: "Partnerships have linked us in the past through many areas including competitions between our teams and exchange of officials. There are many similarities between the continents of Asia and Africa and that is why we wish to work closely together in the next four years."

The AFC already has MoUs with the world governing body FIFA, as well two other Confederations, namely UEFA and CONCACAF.

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