The Nigerian Football Federation and Italian giant AS Roma have signed a multi-year collaborative partnership agreement — the first of its kind for the club with any African country. The three-year partnership will see Roma and the NFF exchange ideas on footballing issues on and off the pitch, with one exciting objective aimed at the country playing host to an exhibition match in which the club may intend to play.
It is understood that the two parties will share expertise on football, business and media affairs. Roma would also be expected to offer the NFF technical and operational support, advice in the areas of youth coaching and player development, football administration and digital media best practices. In return, the NFF will also collaborate with the club in their projects and development initiatives in Nigeria.
Unveiling the partnership in a ceremony in Abuja on Friday, NFF president, Amaju Pinnick, said the federation “is excited about this unique partnership with AS Roma.”
“We have put in a lot of work to move our federation into a globally recognized space and the fact that Roma chose to partner with Nigeria over any other federation in Africa is an indicator of how much respect our brand and this country has in the world of international football.”
NFF and Roma — A Grand Alliance Long in the Making
Roma began building their relationship with the NFF last summer when the club made a somewhat surprising announcement that it was backing the Super Eagles at last year’s World Cup in Russia after Italy failed to qualify for the showpiece. They even took a bold step further to win the hearts of many Super Eagle’s faithfuls by launching a Pidgin Language Twitter account at the time.
“This formal partnership is the natural evolution of the great relationship between the NFF and Roma that began when Roma announced that with Italy absent from the 2018 World Cup, we would be supporting Nigeria,” says Paul Rogers, Head of Strategy at Roma.
“We’ve developed an incredible and fun rapport with Nigerian football fans, media and celebrities. It would be great to see Roma play a match in Nigeria to say thank you to the Nigerian fans for the support they have shown on us.”
The partnership agreement can also be seen as a smart commercial move for the Italian club. A move aimed to booster their popularity among the Nigerian football fanbase at a time when Juventus, its strongest domestic rival, has arguably the most celebrated and marketable Galactico in world football in Christiano Ronaldo.
The three-time Seria A champions were in action away from home on Sunday, needing a stoppage-time strike from Bosnian and former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko to edge past a resilient Bologna side with two goals to one.