The much anticipated FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour arrived in Nigeria on Wednesday, with a first stop in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital and was received by the President, Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa. Also present at the welcoming ceremony were other stakeholders such as the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, officials of the Coca-Cola Company including the Managing Director of Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Bhupendra Suri and his counterpart and Managing Director at the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), Georgios Polymenakos.
Buhari thanked FIFA and Coca-Cola, the sponsors of the tour for involving two cities of Nigeria in the tour, stating that football is a symbol of unification in the country. He expressed his happiness that the Super Eagles was the first African team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, adding that football has been a great unifying factor among the different ethnic groups in the country.
“We are proud of you and the team to the Bobsleigh Winter Olympics in South Korea,” the president said.
FIFA representative, Christian Karembeu, who palyed for France in 1998 when the country won the FIFA World Cup tournament, said bringing the trophy to Nigeria ahead of the tournament was meant to rekindle the passion of many young people in football and inspire the Super Eagles to believe in themselves that they can go far in the tournament and bring the trophy back to Nigeria.
Representatives of Coca-Cola, a major sponsor of the World event, said 91 cities in 51 countries are currently being toured by FIFA. According to him, the trophy would spend four days in Abuja and Lagos because of the acknowledgement of Nigeria as not just a football loving nation but also a high ranking football nation in the world. He also said the event was meant to put Nigeria on the global roadmap adding that it was part of Coca Cola’s commitment to the growth of football.
The trophy will continue on its tour of Nigeria on Friday with a stop in Lagos and will be welcomed by the Governor of Lagos State Akinwunmi Ambode.
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