Sunday, October 24, 2021

NFF not aware of visit of Messi, Ronaldo, Maradona to Nigeria

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Lionel Messi takes on the Super Eagles defence during one of the group matches of the Brazil 2014 World Cup. Me4ssi is among world football icons expected to play for charity in Nigeria…in May. PHOTO: AFP.

Okocha, Kanu also listed

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) yesterday revealed it was unaware of a proposed international exhibition match against human traffic, insurgency and terrorism, which would feature Barcelona star, Lionel Messi, current world’s best footballer, Christiano Ronaldo, Argentina legend, Diego Maradona, Nigeria’s former captains, Austin Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo and other notable former international stars.

The game is slated to hold in Abuja on May 21. Speaking to The Guardian yesterday, NFF Media Director, Ademola Olajire, said the body was yet to get any formal information from the organizers of the exhibition game.

He added: “If such arrangement is in place we expect the organizers to give us the information to that effect. As you can see, the federation has not released any information about the game, so this would let you know the body is not aware.”

In the same vein, NFF Secretary General, Sanusi Muhammed, said the information about the novelty match came as a surprise to him. “I just returned from Ghana and if it was true, I would have gotten the news before now,” he said.

But the organizers of the exhibition game, next2none, a non-profit organization, insist Argentina football legends, Diego Amando Maradona and Lionel Messi would be among a host of former and active football stars scheduled to play at the international exhibition match against human trafficking, insurgency and terrorism on May 21 in Abuja.

It said the FIFA sanctioned initiative tagged, ‘Africa My Africa,’ is organised by next2none to use football to promote global security and fight human trafficking.

Part of the programme is a novelty match between African Stars and World Stars, including such household names as Zinedine Zidane, Ruud Gullit, Ronaldinho, George Weah, Samuel Kuffour, Samuel Eto’o, Abedi Pele, Nwankwo Kanu, Austin Jay Jay Okocha, Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Others are David Beckham, Didier Drogba and a cluster of female footballers such as Sydney Leroux, Asisat Oshoala, Birgit Prinz, Sun Wen, Abby Wanbach, Homare Sawa, Kelly Smith, Marta, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Toni Duggan, Anouk Hoogendijk, Nayeli Rangel, Lauren Sesselmann, Julia Simic and Corine Petit.

At a media event to announce the project, Chairman of next2none, Ndukwe Sam Obu, said a global initiative uniting all nations was required to combat terrorist activities, which have been on the spike over the last decade.

Obu said that radicalisation of the youths into violent extremism was a great concern in Africa, given that approximately 70 per cent of African population are youths.

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