Gianni Infantino has hailed football’s uniting qualities, the power of the sport’s development and the growth of women’s football on a two-day visit to Nigeria.
Mr Infantino emphasised that exposure to high-level competition is the key to evolution for the Super Falcons, Super Eagles and the wider, global game.
He attended the opening match of the Aisha Buhari Cup in Lagos before travelling to Abuja, where he emphasised FIFA’s support for football development and the women’s game in meetings with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, First Lady Aisha Buhari, Minister for Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, and a delegation from the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), accompanied by FIFA Vice-President and CAF President Patrice Motsepe.
“When I last came to Nigeria a few years ago, we were discussing what FIFA can do for Africa,” said President Infantino. “We are not here to take, we are here to give and to work together as partners.
“Since then, we have multiplied investments in African football by five. We have doubled the number of African teams going to the FIFA World Cup as of 2026 and the FIFA Women’s World Cup as well. We need to give opportunities, hope and chances because it’s only when you play against the best that you can improve and show that you are better than them.”
Mr Infantino recalled the world-class ability of Nigerian greats as role models inspiring a continent as well as players across the member association. After seeing the Nigerian women defeat Mali in the opening match of the Aisha Buhari Cup, he also hoped to add female players to a long list of national football heroes, and praised NFF President – and FIFA Council member – Amaju Melvin Pinnick for his great work to use the sport’s platform as a vehicle for unity.
“Nigeria is there to lead, in Africa and also the world. We have seen the projects that you are putting in place [here] and you can help us to pass on the message that football is about unity and bringing people together. When football is played, there are no divisions in a nation, on a continent and in the world.
“That is the power of football. Thank you President Pinnick for all that you are doing to spread the message that we need more participation, more inclusion and more unity in the world because together, we are stronger.”