Nigeria: Arsenal Okays Abuja Stadium, Transcorp Hilton for Tour13 déc. 2011
Advance team of Arsenal Monday gave Abuja the nod to host the English side's pre season tour coming up next summer. (Source: This Day)
Marketing Director of Arsenal, Angus Kinnear and the First team Travel and Equipment Manager, Paul Johnson expressed satisfaction with the facilities at the Abuja National Stadium and Transcorp Hilton Hotel, where the English Premier League side are expected to put up during their stay in Nigeria.
The Abuja Stadium Manager, Victor Osunsanmi took them on the guided tour of the National Stadium, shortly upon their arrival to the nation's capital via Lagos.
They were satisfied with the state of the 60,000 capacity stadium after inspecting the VIP stand, state box, changing rooms and the main pitch.
The Arsenal officials also gave Transcorp Hilton Hotel a wink of approval after they were taken to the meeting rooms, gym, restaurant and guest rooms.
Amadu told the Arsenal delegation that football is an intense passion in Nigeria which some commentators even elevate to a religion at times.
Kinnear said their choice of Nigeria was informed by the large fan base of Arsenal in Nigeria which he described as "overwhelming and probably the largest in the world outside the United Kingdom".
"There is a large fan base for Arsenal in Nigeria. We are also happy with the reception we got at the airport, hotel and everywhere. The reception is unbelievable," Kinnear said.
He promised that all the big actors in Arsenal including Richard Van Persie, Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosisky, Mikel Arteta, Alex Song and others will be keen to visit the homeland of Nwankwo Kanu, one of Arsenal's living legends.
Kinnear said that the key consideration behind the decision to come to Nigeria was to engage their fans rather than to make financial benefits.
According to him, the team's itinerary of Nigeria is still a work in session as they were in the country to see the facilities on ground.
"The benefit for us is really about engaging our supporters. We want to meet them. We had a very successful tour of the Far East last year. And we know that will exactly be the same in Nigeria if not more so. Arsenal fans are global," Kinnear said.
Two English Premier League sides, Man United and Portsmouth visited Nigeria in 2007.