Kunle Solaja with his certificate of achievement and replica of FIFA World Cup in Doha on Tuesday
By Ed Malik, A | November 30, 2022
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has felicitated with foremost Sports journalist, prolific author and respected diarist, Mr. Kunle Solaja on the occasion of his being honoured by world football governing body, FIFA in Doha, Qatar on Tuesday.
Solaja was among 81 other journalists of repute who were adjudged by FIFA to have attended and reported at nearly all the quadrennial global football fiesta and other sports tournaments consistently over the years.
The easy-going journalists who had been a former Sports Editor of Concord Newspapers and the Guardian Newspapers, was awarded a certificate of achievement and a replica of the World Cup trophy, presented by Brazilian legend Ronaldo on behalf of FIFA.
Solaja, who is presently the Chief Executive of highly packaged online sports publication, the sportsvillage.com, was one of the two Africans on the list; with the other being South African Mark Gleeson.
The message from NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi released in Abuja on Tuesday, read: “Today, we are proud to congratulate and celebrate one of our own, Mr. Kunle Solaja, for the honour bestowed on him by FIFA. To attend 10 FIFA World Cup finals is not a joke. Mr. Solaja is a man competent, diligent and passionate about his trade, and we join FIFA to celebrate him as an illustrious servant of the beautiful game.”
The certificate of achievement was jointly signed by FIFA President Gianni Infantino and President of AIPS (the global umbrella body for sports writers), Gianni Merlo.
Star of the simple but memorable ceremony was 88-year-old Enrique Macaya Márquez, an Argentine freelancer who is covering his 17th FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and whose tally is one more than Uruguayan Diego Lucero, who before his death in 1995, had covered every FIFA World Cup tournament between 1930 and 1994.
Solaja’s illustrious odyssey began in 1986 in Mexico, and he has since attended the World Cup finals in Italy in 1990, USA in 1994, France in 1998, Korea/Japan in 2002, Germany in 2006, South Africa in 2010, Brazil in 2014 and Russia in 2018, before the ongoing finals in Qatar.
Apart from his lifelong vocation of sports journalism, Solaja has also written four remarkable books on Nigeria football, namely Super Eagles…Through The Ages, Going For Goals…Unfolding Nigerian Football’s Hidden Stories, Super Eagles @70…Soaring on The Wings and TESILIMI ‘THUNDER’ BALOGUN…The Making Of A Legend.