FIFA President, Gianni Infantino has acknowledged the role of the National Assembly in re-defining Nigeria football development, saying that peace is key to true growth.
Infantino, who said this when on Monday when he paid the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki a courtesy call, during his visit to Nigeria, also recalled that months ago, the first football match was played in Maiduguri after a long time, with a huge crowd at the stadium boldly proclaiming the power of football to enable ceasefire even in war situations.
The FIFA boss described Nigeria as ‘a great country in a great continent,’ adding that: “I was impressed coming from the airport on Sunday and seeing so many kids playing football on both sides of the road. That shows Nigerians not only love football, they live football.
“There is great passion and great tradition, but there is need for unity and stability. I was elected on pledges of reforms, transparency and to develop the game. I am happy that Ms Samoura accepted to be Secretary General and the Executive Council endorsed her, because her choice said something for inclusion, gender equality, diversity and the future that we promise.”
The Senate President in his speech said the National Assembly was committed to restoring peace in Nigeria football.
His words “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, who owns a football club (ABS FC, in the Nigeria National League), said the passion and love of Nigerians for football is incredible.
“Football is a big unifying factor in our country. As governor of a State, I set up a football academy because there are so many talents out there waiting to be nurtured.”
It would be recalled that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had been thrown into turmoil with the emergence of two factions battling for its leadership.
NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, reiterated that the visit, the first time that both the FIFA President and Secretary General would travel together on a non-football competition assignment, underscored the reckoning that Nigeria football commands globally.
He acknowledged the role of the National Assembly in re-defining Nigeria football development, saying that peace is key to true growth. He also recalled that months ago, the first football match was played in Maiduguri after a long time, with a huge crowd at the stadium boldly proclaiming the power of football to enable ceasefire even in war situations.
Earlier, the FIFA President and Secretary General inspected the new NFF headquarters (Sunday Dankaro House) located at the Package B of the National Stadium.
Infantino was accompanied by FIFA Secretary General, Ms Fatma Samoura, NFF President Amaju Pinnick, FA presidents from other African countries and members of the NFF Executive Committee and Management.