As reported by the Africa news, newly crowned Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) champion Senegal on Tuesday, inaugurated a 50,000-seater stadium, the country’s only venue certified to host international football.
Thousands of Senegalese gathered for the inauguration of the stadium aimed at making the country Africa’s go-to venue for international events.
The world-class stadium is located in the city of Diamniadio, 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the capital Dakar, and was built in just 18 months by Turkey’s Summa construction company, at a cost of 156 billion CFA francs ($270 million, 238 million euros).
The venue is to be named in honour of former president Abdoulaye Wade, a gesture which the current President Macky Sall described as a “tribute to the multidimensional, intellectual, pan-Africanist politician”.
This beautiful infrastructure — dedicated to young people — is an invitation to continue our path towards excellence….
Jubilant crowds came by bus and train for the inauguration, which follows Senegal’s dramatic victory at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on February 6. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and FIFA boss Gianni Infantino were among the VIPs who attended Tuesday’s inauguration. An exhibition match was part of the show, with Senegalese legends such as Aliou Cisse — the current coach of the national side — opposing a team of African all-stars, including Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast.
“It’s a source of pride to have a stadium as beautiful as this Senegal. The country needed it to restore its footballing image,”
Bamba Dieng, 24.
“I’ve never seen such a great stadium. I hope it will be properly maintained so that it lasts for a very long time,”
Ibou Ngom, 29
The project is part of a programme to make Dakar a “sporting hub” for Africa. It would mean an end to matches transferred to Asia because the continent lacked infrastructure.
Mbaye Jacques Diop, communications advisory at the Senegalese Ministry of Sports
The first big competitive match will be on March 29.
Senegal has launched a programme to refurbish its stadiums before Dakar hosts of the Summer Youth Olympics in 2026. The country’s last major stadium, Lat Dior, in the region of Thies 70 kilometres from Dakar, lost its certification from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in May last year. The country’s biggest sporting venue is the 60,000-capacity Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium built in Dakar in 1985.