The president of Fifa has disclosed that
passion to boost growth of the game and
not politics inspired his working visit to
Abuja this week. Fifa president Gianni Infantino has said that
his working visit to Nigeria was part of his
administration's determination to
take grassroots football development to
various national associations across the
world, especially in Africa.
Before his departure from Nigeria on
Monday night, the 46-year-old urged fans
and stakeholders to look beyond results on
the pitch in assessing the leadership
performance of the Nigeria Football
While describing President Muhammadu
Buhari as a big supporter of football
following a meeting at the Presidential Villa,
Infantino tasked various federation
presidents in the continent to get busy with
football activities rather than its politics.
"We have had several reforms and hired a
woman secretary general from Africa. We
are for the first time accountable for our
actions and we will live with that,"
Infantino said.
"For the fact that 18 federation presidents
came to Abuja to discuss with me how we
can restore the future of football
development, this shows that there is a
great belief among the football community
that we are on the right track. To focus on
football activities rather than politics.
"When it comes to financial situation, the
NFF president can speak more about that
than me.
"As far as I'm concerned, I see the president
of the country as a fan of football who
wants to help the football association in
terms of support. And I think together we
can help when it comes to finances in
particular. Fifa is increasing financial
support and investment for national
"Instead of 300 or 400 million dollars given
till now, we have increased it to 1.3 to 1.5
billion dollars for each association every
year compared to before. This will be four
times more than what is coming every year
in the past.
"When it comes to Nigeria football, let me
say one thing that it is the same
everywhere. Everyone is critical and
everyone is criticizing when result is not
there and many other issues.
"We can judge the work of a football
federation based on whether the ball hit the
post or enters into the goal. This is not the
measure that we need to use in judging the
"You need to judge it on the work they are
doing in the development of football. Don't
forget one thing that you're world
champions at the U17. There are not many
countries in the world which are world
champions. And you should be proud of it."
On Africa, the former UEFA general secretary
insists there were no developmental
problem in the continent, though lamented
Caf's inactivity and over reliance on Fifa,
but however proposed fresh strategies to
stimulate growth.
"There is no problem in developing football
in Africa, I think what is needed in Africa as
well is the concrete action. We have to
change our mentality at Fifa, thinking we
can simply manage the world from an office
in Zurich. But it is wrong.
"We have to be on ground and speak with
the people. That's why I'm coming here to
speak to each individual president in Africa
because Pinnick knows better than I do
what Nigeria needs more.
"We need to create talior-made projects of
what various countries need. It is possible
that one country needs a stadium or a
technical centre and another is just
structure for competitions.
"We would be ready in Burundi for human
and financial resources. If we do this,
create a talior-made project for each
association. We, myself and all our team
will watch that what is in the contract with
individual association is implemented and
"So that when I come next time in one
year or two years' time, I can tell you
completely what is happening in each
African country in terms of football
development. And then Africa will move
really to the next level," he concluded.
During his two-day visit working visit,
Infantino met several government officials
including the Senate President Bukola
Saraki and NFF factional president Chris


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