BEVERLY HILLS, May 03, (THEWILL) – On Monday, at the secretariat of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the Argentine Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Alejandro Herrero, paid a high profile courtesy call to the NFF President and Member of football’s highest body, FIFA’s Executive Council, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, that was friendly, cordial and mutually appreciative.
During the visit, the Ambassador advocated for the strengthening of ties between Argentina and Nigeria in terms of football while harping on the compelling commonalities between the two countries in the realm of the “beautiful game” of football.
Drawing from historical facts, H.E. Herrero recalled several instances of on-pitch skirmishes between the two countries, saying that Nigeria and Argentina “always clash at the FIFA World Cup with narrow wins for Argentina but you have won one Olympic gold medal at our expense and we have won one at your expense.”
The comfy ambiance of the Secretariat presented the atmosphere that suited the friendliness of the meeting where the Ambassador expressed his desire to see regular games between nine-time African champions, the Super Falcons of Nigeria and his country’s Women’s A team on the one hand, as well as regular exchange programmes and meaningful collaboration between the Football Federations and Clubs of both countries, on the other.
This exciting prospect of closer collaboration and stronger footballing ties between Nigeria and Argentina was pleasantly welcomed by Pinnick as it carried with it the the potential of being profitably beneficial to Nigeria’s football fortunes and the drive by the NFF to accomplish its specific objections of building a sustainable football culture for Nigeria, which Argentina is known for, while simultaneously fostering the building of a virile home football industry.
Pinnick stated this in his response to the Ambassador: “Our mission is to build a sustainable football culture for our country, and eventually have a robust football industry that will not only sustain itself but also contribute significantly to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Argentina is a country where the football culture is fully entrenched. Our teams clash all the time, at the FIFA World Cup, at the Olympics, at youth tournaments and in friendly matches and both have had their victories.
“We have immense respect for what Argentina has been able to do in football, but you will agree with me that Nigeria has also made immense impact in world football, from youth tournaments to the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. Now, we seek to buoy our football industry to become the big business that it should be.”
In extending a hand of fellowship to the Ambassador’s goodwill for the growth of football in Nigeria, Pinnick intimated him of the maiden edition of the First Lady of Nigeria Invitational Tournament being planned for later this year, and hinted that the possibility of inviting Argentina Women’s A team to join in the tournament was something that could be explored.
Attendance at the meeting was dominated by the rank and file of football administration in the country including the NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi; the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports/NFF Executive Member, Chief Obinna Ogba and the NFF Deputy General Secretary, Dr Emmanuel Ikpeme.
Also in attendance were the NFF Director of Finance and Administration, Charity Kadiri; the NFF Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire; the personal assistant to the NFF President, Nasiru Jibril; the NFF Protocol Officer, Emmanuel Ayanbunmi and Ayo Olu-Ibidapo of the Communications Department, who joined in with the others.
In the entourage of the Ambassador were Victoria Budic (Deputy Head of Mission) and Fernando Lacabanne (Head of Economic and Commercial Section) of the embassy.