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