I’m in Nige­ria to as­sist har­ness foot­ball po­ten­tials – FIFA Pres­i­dent

Daily Trust - - SPORT - By Ismail Mu­dashir

Pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of As­so­ci­a­tion Foot­ball (FIFA), Gianni In­fantino yes­ter­day said he is in Nige­ria to as­sist in har­ness­ing the foot­ball po­ten­tial of the coun­try.

Pay­ing a cour­tesy visit to the Se­nate Pres­i­dent, Bukola Saraki, he said Nige­ri­ans pas­sion for foot­ball should be cher­ished and pro­tected.

He said that his visit was to un­der­score the im­por­tance of Nige­ria and by ex­ten­sion the African con­ti­nent in the de­vel­op­ment of world foot­ball.

“Nige­ria is not only a big coun­try but a great coun­try. Africa is not only a big con­ti­nent but a great con­ti­nent. A great con­ti­nent ac­tu­ally be­cause it shares the great pas­sion which is the pas­sion I have for foot­ball.

“I was im­pressed yes­ter­day com­ing from the air­port to the city, to see how many peo­ple - boys, girls and kids - were play­ing foot­ball along the streets. You see that you don’t only love foot­ball, you re­ally live foot­ball in this coun­try.

“This must be cher­ished and pro­tected. We need sta­bil­ity and unity to work in a se­ri­ous way be­cause Nige­ria has a great tra­di­tion and a great pas­sion for foot­ball and the whole of Africa has it.

“I was elected with a man­date for change, re­form and to bring trans­parency and good gov­er­nance into foot­ball, but also most im­por­tantly to foster the de­vel­op­ment of foot­ball. And Africa has to play a key role in this,” he said.

In his re­marks, Pres­i­dent of the Se­nate, Dr. Bukola Saraki ad­mon­ished foot­ball ad­min­is­tra­tors to learn to ac­cept de­feat in the in­ter­est of the im­me­di­ate en­vi­ron­ment and larger so­ci­ety, and not en­gage in ‘pull-the-house­down’ syn­drome when things do not go their way.

Saraki spoke at the Na­tional As­sem­bly, when he re­ceived vis­it­ing FIFA Pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino and Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, Ms Fatma Samoura, along­side NFF Pres­i­dent Amaju Pin­nick, FA presidents from other African coun­tries and mem­bers of the NFF Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee and Man­age­ment.

“The kind of global recog­ni­tion we have to­day, as a re­sult of this his­toric visit, chal­lenges us to learn to al­low peace and sta­bil­ity in Nige­ria foot­ball. If peo­ple lose elec­tion, they should learn to ac­cept de­feat. Peo­ple used to blame politi­cians for do-or-die at­ti­tude; politi­cians have moved, it is now foot­ball ad­min­is­tra­tors who have this at­ti­tude! When you lose an elec­tion, you should be pre­pared to wait for the next poll.

“I call on those who are fo­ment­ing trou­ble or try­ing to di­vide the house to stop their act. The Na­tional As­sem­bly is united in mov­ing to re­store peace in Nige­ria foot­ball, and cre­at­ing an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for the game,” Saraki said.

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