By Salawudeen Olawale
Newly elected executive committee member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Melvin Pinnick, has said that his election into the Executive Committee of Africa’s soccer-ruling body marked the end of Nigeria’s backwardness in African football.
He said the nation would begin to play a “front role” in African football, both on and off the pitch, in taking the round leather game to the next level on the continent.
Pinnick, who dropped the hint while interacting with newsmen in his office in Abuja, yesterday, said his victory would bring cheery news to the country and promised that Nigerian referees would start officiating in top CAF-organised competitions and, ultimately, the World Cup, which is the dream of any referee and country.
“It is not about me. Nigeria is the winner, because we are not going to play back-role in African football, again. We are now in charge and we will play a prominent role in taking CAF to the next level.
“First, I want to see Nigerian referees getting considerations in officiating top CAF competitions and, most importantly, officiating at the World Cup.
Nigerian referees are among the best in Africa. The time has come for them to officiate at the global stage, which is the World Cup,” he said.
Also, Pinnick confessed to bearing no grudge against Nigerian CAF members believed to be Hayatou’s loyalists, who were against his support for new CAF President Ahmad Ahmad, but promised to work with them, as he wouldn’t dare do away with their experience.
“I bear nobody any grouse, because my election was about Nigeria and not me as a person. I am going to work with them, because you can’t throw away their experience and I need their support to succeed,” he said.