President Muhammadu Buhari (r) with the visiting President George Weah of Liberia briefing State House Correspondents after their meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Monday (5/3/18)
The Liberian President also warned Ministers especially those in-charge of the Sports ministry to desist from the habit of tampering with money meant for the welfare of players during any tournament.
Weah stated this in an interview with the State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He expressed dismay over the attitude of African leaders who always complain when it comes to investing in sports, and thanked President Buhari for the qualification of Super Eagles to the World Cup.
He said he was amazed when he met the President of France, Emmanuel Macron who spoke passionately on his sports agenda and how he plans to build capacity through sports.
He said, “I have been fighting for so long for my national team to qualify. Imagine, in the world best here in Africa, the only world best. And I said to President Macron, that FIFA built one stadium in Liberia and we have one Balloon d’Or, so if you build 10 stadia in Liberia, you will have 10 ballon d’Ors.
“I think Nigerian team is a model, we all followed them. I have played with great Nigerian players, I played against them. Now you have a new generation, the fact that they qualified is a good thing for Nigeria.
“But I hope that they will prepare very early because they are going to represent Africa and we will be there to watch them, for them to bring the trophy for the first time if it is possible. But I think the seriousness to go to World Cup is not to pay players to go, I want every African government to know, if you win World Cup is a pride to Africa, it is not just to Nigeria, so we must do everything to ensure that the players are not stressed, make sure they concentrate, make sure their incentives are given to them to motivate them.
“Some of the things you see at the World Cup, you will see an entire team go to represent a whole country and you will hear that one minister took the money, they did not pay these players and the players are causing problem. When players are going to camp, it is to relax and focus. And for them to be in camp they must have everything there for them not to worry.
“Remember I played in European setting, when we go camp we have nothing to do. The only thing we have to do is to take a shower and prepare for the game, everything is laid down here and so you have no excuse.
“So let the players not have excuse, support them and let them go and bring back that cup.”
On what he is doing to revamp sports in his country, he said he had already started something and that he had gone to meet World Bank and they are giving his country $5 million to revamp the sports sector.
“As a former coach, technical director and former sponsor of the national team, you know it is not only football. When Liberia goes to represent us at the Olympics, we only see the officials drilling with our flags, we don’t see any athletes.
“This year, we have made sure that all of our sports, we will have someone to represent us and I will be there to monitor them. That is why we put a former player as the sports minister that I will work with to revamp Liberia National Team and I know he will do it best.
“And those techniques that made Liberia qualify twice and missed the World Cup three times, I will make sure that I work with him so that he can do the work and ensure that our athletes go and represent our country.”