President Buhari receives FIFA World Cup trophy

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja


President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday received the FIFA World Cup in Abuja as the world trophy tour made a stop in Nigeria.

FIFA and Coca cola brought the trophy to Nigeria as one of the five African countries that qualified for the 2018 football tournament taking place in Russia in June.

The FIFA World Cup will be in Nigeria four days and will be displayed in Abuja and Lagos.

The trophy tour began in 2006 and will extend to 91 cities and 51 countries.

Cult following

Speaking after receiving the trophy, President Buhari said football “has a cult following in Nigeria.”

“Our passion for football cuts across all ages and it plays a key role in unifying our people from various backgrounds,” he said.

The president said the love of Nigerians for football extends beyond the shores of Nigeria as there are supporters of the major football clubs in the world.

He noted that Nigeria was the first African country to qualify for the Russia 2018, and promised that government would give the necessary support for Nigeria’s participation at this year’s Mundial.

“We recognize the role of football not only as a being useful for unifying our country but also as huge platform for the empowerment of our teeming and talented youths,” President Buhari said, adding that his government appreciates “the task of harnessing the potentials of our youths through sports.”

He commended Coca Cola for investing in football development over the years and implored other organizations to take a cue from Coca Cola.

Also speaking, Nigeria’s Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, said Nigeria worked very hard to qualify for Russia 2018 and thanked President Buhari for the support his administration is giving to sports development.

The representative of FIFA and World Cup winner with France, Christian Karembeu, urged the Super Eagles of Nigeria to believe in themselves when the line out to play at the World Cup.

The President of Coca Cola West Africa, Mr. Peter Njonjo, said the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour would put Nigeria on the global spotlight and “heighten the patriotic fervour in millions of Super Eagles fans in this national quest to bring home the FIFA World Cup Trophy this year.”

The occasion was also used to present to President Buhari members of the Super Eagles team that won silver medal at the CHAN tournament in Morocco early this year and the Team Nigeria that competed in Bobsleigh sports at the Winter Olympic in South Korea.

President Buhari said Nigeria was proud of both teams and encouraged them not to relent in their efforts.