President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Melvin Pinnick has dismissed the so –called Football Leaks in which some persons who illegally hacked into private and official emails of FIFA personnel have been ‘releasing’ documents with the sole aim of impacting negatively on the image of the world football –ruling body.
“The Leaks are hopelessly weak and it does not affect the fact that Africa sticks with Gianni,” Pinnick, who is also the 1st Vice President of the Confederation of African Football, has declared.
“The entire NFF Executive Committee including myself remain avowed loyalists of Mr. Infantino and we will continue to give him support.
“For us, the hawkers of these weak leaks are thoroughbred blackmailers whose objective is to try and smear the reputation of persons who are working so hard and diligently to reposition FIFA. Over the past three years, FIFA has embarked on a worthwhile journey to regain its integrity and credibility, and the works of the President, Mr. Gianni Infantino and the Secretary General, Ms Fatma Samoura, are outstanding in this regard.
“Financially, socially and in the area of transparency, FIFA has turned the positive corner from the crisis and credibility deficits of 2015. We now have a FIFA that is truly global in outlook and pursuing the interests of all six Confederations and 211 Member Associations without any fear or favour. Some persons are definitely not happy about that.”
Pinnick dismissed the leaks, insisting that the commitment of Mr. Infantino and the FIFA Administration to projects and programs that impact positively on the game worldwide outweighs whatever the disgruntled leakers can put in the public sphere.
“Nigeria and – I have good reason to believe – the whole of Africa is not bothered by whatever the haters have. We stick with Mr. Infantino and the current administration at FIFA. When Mr. Infantino came into office, he opened all the windows to inclusiveness, diversity and true development across board. Today, there are six female members of the FIFA Council and 39 women in the Council and different committees. The FIFA Administration is composed of 45% women and is headed by a glorious and highly –qualified African in Ms. Fatma Samoura.
“There are plans for a 48 –team FIFA World Cup that will see more of the smaller countries enjoying the limelight and financial benefits of playing at that highest level, and that could happen as early as Qatar 2022. FIFA’s financial situation has improved from the extreme low of $930million during the 2015 crisis to about $6million in the current cycle.
“As a body committed to harvesting the best for its people, CAF strongly aligns with Mr. Infantino’s vision for the 48 –team World Cup, as well as the plans for a World Nations League and an expanded FIFA Club World Cup, which all means more money for development, particularly in our developing climes. With Mr. Infantino, Ms. Samoura and the current administration, Africa (including our country Nigeria) is guaranteed meaningful growth at a great pace, which is something some persons and groups are pretty scared of.”
Pinnick also praised FIFA’s new Forward Programme, which replaced the ‘Goal’ programme, saying the investment of over $1 billion (a four –fold increase) worldwide between May 2016 and December 2018, which is planned to be even bigger in the 2019-2022 cycle, deserves a robust applause of the global football community.
“The FIFA Forward Programme guarantees greater investment, but it also comes with stricter controls, which is good for the administration of the game. The appointment of world –renowned auditors to thoroughly check the books of Member Associations and set them on the path of transparency, accountability and good governance is essential to genuine financial discipline, and it also attracts commercial partners who are assured that their monies would not be misapplied or misused, with an accountable financial procedure in place.
Describing the FIFA World Cup finals in Russia this year summer as a monumental success despite all the fears harboured by cynics, Pinnick pin-pointed heartwarming developments in ethics, human rights and unheard –of disclosures of compensation to persons in FIFA administration as further reasons for Nigeria to dig its feet in the ground in support of the Infantino team.
“FIFA was founded in 1904, but until few years ago we heard no idea of what the leaders were being paid. Now, we know what Gianni (Infantino), Samoura, the FIFA Council members and the chairmen of the Independent Committees earn. We are particularly pleased with this. More than that, there has been in-depth revision of the FIFA Code of Ethics, the creation of a Human Rights Advisory Board to enforce decent working conditions on World Cup construction sites and transparency and accountability is shown in the Activity, Financial and Governance Reports that come out annually.
“For us at the NFF, we have only one mind and that is to support Infantino and his team all the way. That is what is in the best interest of world football; that what is in the best interest of African Football and; that is what is in the best interest of Nigerian Football.”