France wants closer ties with Nigeria football, says Ambassador
The Ambassador of France to Nigeria, His Excellency Denys Gauer, has expressed his country’s desire to forge closer ties with Nigerian football as it has done in the areas of trade, security and politics.
Speaking in Abuja yesterday, during a courtesy visit by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), led by president, Amaju Pinnick, Mr. Gauer noted that football is an important tool for unity and integration in Nigeria, and praised the feats of Nigeria’s various national teams in global competitions over the decades.
“Presently, Nigeria is France’s number one trading partner in Africa. We have also made good progress with regards to collaboration in the political and security areas.
“We are keen for stronger ties in football. We know football is a major factor in Nigeria and personally, I have a good idea of the power of football because I spent time in Iraq and the only time the Shiites, Sunni and Kurds groups came together as one was whenever there was a football match.”
Pinnick, who was accompanied by Mr. Shehu Dikko, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, Bola Oyeyode, Ademola Olajire, Chikelue Iloenyosi, Tunde Aderibigbe, Christian Emeruwa (Integrity Officer), Nasiru Jibril, Emmanuel Ayanbunmi and Ayo Olu-Ibidapo, thanked Mr. Gauer for his personal intervention that saw Super Eagles’ backroom staff being issued visas eventually for two friendly matches in Europe last month.
“We cannot thank you enough for your kind intervention, and we are determined to build a relationship with your mission and France as a country.
“The present NFF administration is committed to making positive changes in the Nigeria game. Our people are passionate about the game and it is a potent tool for integration, for national regeneration and for unity and peace. Our vision is to develop Nigeria football to the highest level possible.”
Pinnick also recalled how the Super Eagles defeated France’s senior team in a friendly in Saint Etienne in June 2009, and said the NFF would work with the FFF towards another high –profile friendly between the two countries.