Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has pushed aside a media report that the proposed World Cup international friendly matches on November 14 between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and La Albiceleste of Argentina in Russia have come under a serious threat from the Islamic State (Isis).
However the report yesterday said a group posted a picture of Argentina top star, Lionel Messi in prison. The warped image has Messi in prison attire and depicts the global football icon crying tears of blood. The caption next to his face according to the report reads, “You are fighting a state that does not have a failure in its dictionary.”
Dr. Mohammed Sanusi the Secretary-General of the NFF, told reporters yesterday that such story might be the imagination of some individuals. “We have not seen such story anywhere,” Sanusi said. “It is just imagination of some individuals and I urged Nigerians to take it as a false alarm.”
The report stated that this is the first time a match involving Nigeria will be under a threat by any militant group.
The threat, it further stated, has forced the Argentina Football Association (AFA) to demand special security for Messi and other members of the national team.
But despite this threat, Sports Village Square gathered from the Moscow Times that Argentina’s ambassador to Russia, Ricardo Lagorio, reiterated that the 2018 World Cup would be safe to visit next summer. The ambassador was responding to the terrorist attack threat.
“The aim [of the latest pro-ISIS propaganda] is to frighten people but all the Argentineans that intend to come should come to the World Cup and do so without fear,” Lagorio said.
“I would like to call for calm and to ask people that will come from all over the world to do so without concerns.”
President of AFA, Claudio Tapia, on Thursday, met the Russian ambassador to his country, Victor Koronelli, to discuss the threat posed by ISIS, after the group also published an image alluding to next year’s World Cup in Russia, warning those who visit Russia that they will face attacks.
Before the match with Nigeria, Argentina will play a friendly game with Russia on November 11. The game is billed for Krasnodar in Russia, at the Krasnodar Arena Stadium.
Meanwhile, the 32 national teams competing at the 2018 World Cup will share $400 million in prize money, a 12 percent increase from the 2014 tournament, Fifa said yesterday.
The purse at the previous edition in Brazil was $358 million – $35 million of which was awarded to champions Germany, with runners-up Argentina pocketing $25 million.
By contrast, countries who failed to advance beyond the group stage received $8 million. So, Nigeria stands to make N4.3billion participation at the World Cup in Russia.