President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has urged football administrators to learn to accept defeat in the interest of the immediate environment and the larger society.
Saraki, who received visiting FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Monday in Abuja, said they should not engage in the “pull-the-house-down’’ syndrome when things did not go their way.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Infantino was accompanied by FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura who is also in Nigeria with him on a two-day visit.
The duo was led to the Senate President by the President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick.
“The kind of global recognition we have today, as a result of this historic visit, challenges us to learn to allow peace and stability (to reign) in Nigeria football.
“If people lose election, they should learn to accept defeat. People used to blame politicians for the do-or-die attitude, but politicians have moved away from that.
“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,’’ Saraki said.
He assured of the National Assembly’s unity in moving to restore peace in Nigerian football, and creating an enabling environment for the game.
Saraki, who owns a football club, the ABS FC of Ilorin in the Nigeria National League (NNL), 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.’’
Earlier, Infantino in his remarks had described Nigeria as “a great country in a great continent’’.
“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,’’ he said.
The FIFA President said he was happy that Samoura accepted to be the federation’s Secretary General, and happier that the FIFA Executive Council endorsed her.
“This is because her choice said something for inclusion, gender equality, diversity and the future that we promise.’’
Pinnick said the visit, which was the first time both Infantino and Samoura would travel together on a non-football competition assignment, underscored the reckoning Nigerian football commands globally.
He acknowledged the role of the National Assembly in re-defining Nigerian football development, saying peace was key to true growth.
The NFF President also recalled that, months ago, the first football match was played in Maiduguri after a long time.
“It was with a huge crowd at the stadium, boldly proclaiming the power of football to enable ceasefire even in war situations,’’ he said.
The visiting FIFA chieftains and the NFF President were accompanied by Football Association presidents from other African countries and members of the NFF Executive Committee and Management.
NAN reports that, earlier in the day, the FIFA President and Secretary General had inspected the new NFF headquarters (the Sunday Dankaro House) at the Package B of the National Stadium.
Late on Sunday, both leading world football officials had also attended a welcome dinner put together by the League Management Company (LMC).
Youths and Sports Minister Solomon Dalung, as well as the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Christian Ohaa, and Nigeria’s IOC member Habu Gumel were also in attendance.