Italian club AS Roma have signed an agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to become their first African partner.
Roma won the hearts of Nigerian fans after announcing it was backing the Super Eagles at last year’s World Cup in Russia when Italy failed to make the finals – and when it launched a Pidgin Language Twitter account back in March.
Pidgin is spoken by an estimated 75m people in Nigeria, with additional speakers across West and Central Africa.
This three-year partnership will see Roma and the NFF collaborate together on and off the pitch, with one long term objective being for the club to play an exhibition match in the country, according to the Italian outfit.
“We are excited about this unique partnership with AS Roma,” NFF President Amaju Pinnick said.
“We have put in a lot of work to move our federation into a globally recognised 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.”
The two parties will work on a number of projects – led by AS Roma – from football, business and media expertise to offering the NFF technical and operational support and advice in the areas of youth coaching, player development, football administration and digital media best practices.
“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.
“Roma’s digital team began working with the Super Eagles in 2018 on their social media coverage of the World Cup and earlier this year, we again worked with Nigeria during the Africa Cup of Nations.
“Through our unique use of social media, and initially using the hashtag #ForzaSuperEagles, we’ve developed an incredible and fun rapport with Nigerian football fans, media and celebrities.
“Jim Pallotta [club president] has made no secret of his wish to see Roma play a match in Nigeria as a thank you to the Nigerian fans for the support they have shown us and it would be great if through this partnership, we can make that happen.”
Three-time Italian champions Roma have enjoyed ties with a number of African players in their ranks in recent years.
They include Nigerian trio Umar Sadiq, Adewale Wahab and Akande Ajide; Pierre Wome (Cameroon), Sammy Kuffour (Ghana), Mehdi Benatia (Morocco), Gervinho (Ivory Coast) and Seydou Keita (Mali).
Current members of Roma’s squad include Guinea’s Amadou Diawara and Senegal’s Moustapha Seck, while Nigerian Umar Sadiq and Senegalese Keba Coly are both out on loan.