- Hosts CHAN, Bobsleigh Winter Olympics Team
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday evening received the FIFA World Cup Trophy at the new Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He was handed the trophy by Christian Karembeu, a retired International footballer from France, who was representing world football body FIFA.
The President and members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) took a break from the meeting, which had been ongoing since 11am, to receive the FIFA delegation led by President, Coca Cola West Africa, Peter Njonjo.
Buhari also received CHAN Super Eagles who were awarded with silver medal at the competition in Morocco in January.
Also received was Nigeria’s Bobsleigh Winter Olympics Team.
Buhari noted that football had a huge following in Nigeria that cuts across religion and ethnicities.
He assured that the Super Eagles will get the necessary support ahead of the completion which starts in June in Russia.
The President noted that football was a big platform for empowering youths and commended Coca Cola for investing in the game.
He urged other organizations to emulate Coca Cola in supporting football and other sports.
Buhari also commended the CHAN Super Eagles and Nigeria’s Bobsleigh Winter Olympics Team for making the country proud.
The Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, hosted the Cup for Nigeria as one of the countries that has qualified to participate in the competition.
He expressed optimism that the cup will return to the country in July as the Super Eagles, betting that the national team will win the cup.
“We have worked very hard for it and we will continue to make Nigeria proud,” Dalung said.
He said the Super Eagles, who took part in the CHAN competition in Morocco, advanced to the finals for the first time.
“This is the first time Nigeria has gone that far in the history of the completion and returned with a silver.”
He also said Nigeria’s Bobsleigh Winter Olympics Team, hoisted Nigeria’s flag for the first time in the competition, even though they are based in the United States.
Dalung said, “Sports under your (Buhari) administration is moving. It’s been a harvest of medals under your leadership. Sports is about funding and you have given support.”
Njonjo said the tour will extend to 91 cities in 51 countries, courtesy of Coca Cola.
According to him, Nigeria will enjoy “the special consideration of hosting the Trophy for four whole days and in two cities – Lagos and Abuja. This is, no doubt, a recognition of the country’s status as not just a nation of passionate football lovers, but a historically high-ranking football nation and home to some of the world’s famous and favourite football players.”
He said Nigerians from all walks of life want to see the authentic, one-of-a-kind FIFA World Cup Trophy and take a photo with it.
“The event will certainly put Nigeria on the global spotlight. It will also heighten the patriotic fervor in millions of the Super Eagles’ fans in this national quest to bring home the FIFA World Cup Trophy this year.”
FIFA representative Karembeu, in his remarks, said Nigeria has beautiful youths and a future to build sports.
He said that as a World Cup winner he will like to see the Super Eagles believe in themselves, go far in the competition and bring joy to the Nigerian people.