FIFA President Gianni Infantino has branded Italy’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup as “a beautiful blow”.
The Azzurri will be notable absentees in Russia this summer after suffering a shock play-off defeat to Sweden.
The four-time champions are set to miss out on a global showpiece for the first time in 60 years, with the 1958 finals in Sweden representing the last time they came up short.
A thorough investigation in what went wrong has already been opened in Italian football, and Infantino believes that could be considered a good thing as a fallen giant seeks to rebuild.
He told Tidesport source: “A World Cup without Italy? The fact that Italy didn’t qualify for the World Cup was a beautiful blow for all of Italian football.
“They must work hard and find the strengths and resources needed to start over. In Italy, there’s passion, talent, preparation and structure, so everyone must start by putting aside their own interests and focus on those of Italian football in order to re-establish its tradition.
“The Azzurri shirt moves not only Italians but also football in general. That jersey deserves to remain one of the best.
“Now they have competent people working and if they need FIFA, we’re here to help. It’s important for the world of football that Italy are strong.”
While Italy will have to watch on from afar this summer, Infantino is confident that an eagerly anticipated event in Russia will provide plenty of thrills and frills.
He added: “It’ll be an absolutely spectacular World Cup, the most beautiful in history.
“I’ve been to Russia a lot lately and realised the Russian people want to show that theirs is a country that knows how to welcome fans from all over the world.
“One and a half million people will arrive: they’ll be able to do so without a visa, there will be free transport in the host cities and free access to museum, thanks to the match tickets.
“The stadiums are beautiful and for the whole country, it’ll be a matter of national pride, showing that they can organise a beautiful competition.
“It’ll be a beautiful and exciting party and we want people to come to Russia.”
Organisers Explain 2021 NSF Postponement
The 21st edition of National Sports Festival earlier scheduled for November 2 to 15, 2022, in Asaba, Delta State, will now hold from November 28 to December 10, 2022.
According to a statement by the Festival Secretary, Peter Nelson, and addressed to all Commissioners of Sports and Directors of Sports, the postponement was at the request of the host, Delta State.
“I wish to convey the request of Delta State Government to shift the date of the 21st National Sports Festival earlier scheduled to hold from November 2 to 15, 2022.
“It is now shifted to start on November 28 to December 10, 2022.
“The reason for the postponement is to give Delta State more time to complete some of the facilities needed for the festival,” the statement reads.
It will be recalled that the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival held in Benin City, Edo State, which was tagged: “Edo 2020,” also suffered several postponements until it finally held from April 2 to 14.
Nigeria Must Embrace Grassroots Sports Dev – Amusan
Women’S 100 metres hurdles world record holder, Tobi Amusan, believes that grassroots development programmes and top-notch training will help the country discover more athletics world champions.
Speaking in Lagos at a dinner organised in her honour by The Plug, an entertainment firm, tagged ‘Tobi Amusan’s Homecoming,’ she blamed the exodus of the Nigeria’s top athletes to other countries to what such nations offer the athletes.
“Grassroots sports development is something we lack here and the reason we often lose our top athletes to other countries of the world.
“From my experience training in the United States, if we can have such development here, we can groom young talents and unearth more Tobi Amusans,” she said.
On the recent ratification of her record by World Athletics, Amusan said: “That my world record was ratified by the world body means that I am drug free and that I am clean. I feel great about it. Every time I am on the track, my eyes are always set on how to win and I execute it by winning.”
She also spoke on the recent reception by the Federal Government, saying, “It is great feeling that we were recognised by the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In as much as we did the work, it was an honour that they took into account and they recognised the fact that we did the nation proud. It is such a great feeling getting the national honour.”
She acknowledged the support she got after her world record feat, with her followers on Twitter rising from 3000 to 150,000 under 24 hours, saying it showed that people appreciate what she is doing.
On the criticism by men’s 400 metres world record holder, Michael Johnson, after her record breaking race in Oregon, U.S, Amusan said she was not bothered. “Honestly, I kept doing my thing because after the World Championships, I had other competitions to attend. I don’t dwell on negativity… I look on the bright side of the sport.”
At the event, Flutterwave, which used the occasion to declare it has signed a multi-year partnership deal with Amusan, said: “It is very difficult to find athletes who embody our core values the way Tobi does.”
YSFON : Academy Coach Begs For Assistance
The Head coach of the De Kings International Football Academy (DKIFA) of Port Harcourt Okpaleke Chika King is begging the Rivers State ministry of Sports, private and corporate individuals and all lovers of football for financial support to assist his team represent the state in Youth Sports Federation Of Nigeria (YSFON) competition.
He said that his team was representing Rivers state at the ongoing Chief of Naval Staff National (YSFON) Competition in Ilorin, Kwara State. He said he had written a letter to the Ministry of Sports and also to some private individuals for assistance.
King made the assertion on Saturday in an exclusive interview with Tidesports in Port Harcourt before leaving for Kwara state.
According to him he had nothing to do than to borrow money for the journey believing that when the State’s Commissioner for Sports sees the letter he would not fail to respond to it.
“ As you can see, my boys are ready for the competition but we lack support.
“ I have written to the Ministry of Sports and also to some private individuals to assist us but I have not gotten any reply, yet.
By: Kiadum Edookor
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