Sen Saraki
Sen Saraki

President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has appealed to warring factions in the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to sheathe their swords in the interest of football development in the country.
Saraki gave this charge when President of NFF, Amaju Pinnick, led President of Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), Gianni Infantino, and Secretary General, Fatma Samoura, on a visit to the Senate.
He urged the NFF executive to seize the international recognition accorded Nigeria by the visit of FIFA leadership to put the crisis plaguing the association behind them.
“Apart from the major issue of reform and accountability, the key issue remains the development of our own football, and I think Africa, as you said, is the greatest place such can come from.
“We are going to play our own role in creating the enabling environment. I am happy that fellow presidents of football associations in different African countries are here.
“I think your visit clearly shows that you are keen and you want to work with us in Africa. We must play our own role and that is why we must give all the support we can.
“It gives me an opportunity to talk to the members of NFF that we must solve our problems.
“With this kind of world recognition we have today, the only thing we can do is to show example here in Nigeria how we think a football association should be run.
“A lot of you professionals sometimes blame politicians that when we lose elections we don’t want to accept. But now, we politicians are now reformed,” he said.
He urged members of the federation to accept election results whenever they lost and wait for the expiration of the tenure to re-contest.
He stressed that it was now very pertinent for NFF to move on, especially because of the citizens who are football lovers.
Earlier, Infantino said that he was happy to be in Nigeria in view of its passion for football, stressing that the passion should be cherished and protected.
He said that his visit was meant 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.
“I was elected with a mandate for change, reform and to bring transparency and good governance into football and foster the development of football,” he said.
Also speaking, NFF President, Pinnick, called on the National Assembly to help to initiate laws that would lead to development and smooth administration of football in the country.niger

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