Nigerian leader hails role of football as great tool for national unity

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed the resolve of the federal government to develop football, which he describes as a great…

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed the resolve of the federal government to develop football, which he describes as a great tool for national unity in the country.Receiving a FIFA delegation led by its President, Gianni Infantino, and the President of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Patrice Motsepe, at the State House in Abuja on Thursday, Buhari said: “Our hearts beat as one anytime our teams are playing a football match.”

“Our youth are always positively engaged when our national football teams are on assignment. Without any doubts here, football is a major tool of national unity,” he said.

The presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said in a statement in Abuja that Buhari explained that Nigeria was giving adequate attention to sports and has set up a committee to draw a 10-year plan for football.

“I expect that the recommendations of this committee will accelerate the development of football,” he told the FIFA delegation.

“It is my hope that it will further improve the fortunes of the game internationally,” he added.

According to Buhari, the government has adopted football as a national asset and is delighted that Nigeria has produced excellent female players who are a force to be reckoned with globally.

“Our National women’s football team, the Super Falcons are a force to reckon with both on the continent and internationally,” he added.

Speaking on the ongoing Aisha Buhari Cup (ABC), Buhari said that it was a confirmation of the government’s dedication to women’s football.

‘‘This women’s football competition is a novel idea here and I am sure it will be exciting in its execution for our womenfolk and lovers of football,” he added.

Responding, the FIFA President, who is in Nigeria for the six-nation Aisha Buhari Invitational Football Tournament, restated the global body’s commitment to the development of football in the country.

He also appealed to President Buhari to help in amplifying football’s unifying message.

“Nigeria is a big football-playing country. We need Nigeria to lead the football movement in the world, together with Africa as a continent,” said Infantino.

“When football is played, there are no divisions in a nation or continent. Football brings people together and to do that, we need important countries like Nigeria,” local media reports quoted Infantino as saying.

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