The Ambassador of France to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Denys Gauer, has expressed the keen desire of France to forge closer ties with Nigeria football as it has done in the areas of trade, security and politics.
Speaking in Abuja on Wednesday during a courtesy visit by the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation, led by its President, Amaju Pinnick, Gauer noted that football is an important tool for unity and integration in Nigeria.
He praised the feats of Nigeria’s various National Teams in global competitions over the decades.
He said: “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 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 in company with Shehu Dikko (2nd Vice President/LMC chairman), Dr. Mohammed Sanusi (General Secretary), Bola Oyeyode (Director of Competitions), Ademola Olajire (Director of Communications), Chikelue Iloenyosi (SA, Security), Tunde Aderibigbe (Head, Protocol), Christian Emeruwa (Integrity Officer), Nasiru Jibril (PA to President), Emmanuel Ayanbunmi (protocol officer) and Ayo Olu-Ibidapo (media officer), thanked Gauer for his personal intervention that saw Super Eagles’ backroom staff being issued visas eventually for two friendly matches in Europe last month.
He said: “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.