It is no longer news that Gianni Infantino, the President of Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) and the federation secretary Fatma Sanoura, were in Nigeria this week on a two-day working visit at the invitation of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) led by Amaju Pinnick, but what are the gains of his visit? Will it benefit Nigerian football in anyway? Or was it another jamboree?

It is the purview of the football federation to invite anybody or organisations to its functions or otherwise more or less the world football governing body, but the timing must be right and proper with no doubt of the motive from any quarter.

Infantino said in his address, “I am happy to be in Nigeria the giant of football” and everybody at the gala clapped but I asked, who is deceiving who? Is he talking of my dear country who cannot boast of a functional and well equipped federation office? A country whose football is going doing the drain? A country where the welfare of coaches and footballers is not a priority? A country where hiring of a national team coach is harder than its presidential election? It’s a shame that we all know this and some people were deceived by Infantino statement.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino Speaking during the Cocktail At Abuja, Flanked by Barrister Solomon Dalung, MS Samoura and Shehu Dikko
FIFA President Gianni Infantino Speaking during the Cocktail At Abuja, Flanked by Barrister Solomon Dalung, MS Samoura and Shehu Dikko

It is a shame that we failed to qualify for the African U20 nations cup in Zambia next year after beating the Sudanese in there backyard primarily because the players were not motivated, they even went on strike days before the match, Samson Siasia cried out this week that the federation is owing him five months salary while the Olympic football team lacks good welfare and preparation towards the games, the senior national team is now ranked 70 in FIFA/Coca Cola rankings with no substantive coach, the last head coach of the Super Eagles, Sunday Oliseh is still neck deep in dispute with the federation over unpaid salaries and all they could think of is hosting the FIFA president with over 17 other football association presidents mainly from Anglophone African countries, who picked the bill for this so called “hosting”?

Is it the NFF that cannot pay coaches salaries or see to the welfare of the players? This lack of direction and focus can only happen in our dear directionless NFF.

One of the so called analyst on a popular one hour daily sport show on radio said one of the gains of the visit is that Infantino announced that Africa will be granted additional slots when the world cup is increased to 40 teams and I smiled at how shallow that statement was, what manner of gain is that? There is no way the number of participating teams in the world cup will be increased and Africa and Asia will not get increased slots, no possible way, please say something else, he needs not come here before that is a certainty.

Its was also mentioned in some quarters that the FIFA president visit with the 17 Anglophone FA presidents is to put Pinnick in good position for African football politics, again I laughed out loud (LOL), are we talking about same Confederation of African Football that Issa Hayatou is heading? Please dear sir/madam come with a different line because the absennce of Issa Hayatou on the FIFA president’s entourage is already a defeat for Pinnick, we all know that the Francophone countries control the beautiful game in Africa and anything you want to do you must put them in the picture, else its dead on arrival.

President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki with FIFA President Gianni Infantino
President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki with FIFA President Gianni Infantino

The only gain I can see in this ill advised visit is that it exposes the fact that the federation is not cash strapped, so it must as a matter of urgency clear all back log of salaries owed various coaches and allowances of all teams so that they can be motivated and ready to play for the nation with all there heart.

In all fairness there is no gain of any colouration in the visit, it is more of a jamboree and a waste of public funds which should have been channeled to a good course especially players and coaches welfare, the NFF should start getting its priority right now and make our football great again.

“A man whose roof is on fire doesn’t run to extinguish another man’s burning house”

Tinuola Akinola
Email : strongestpoint@gmail.com
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