Three Nigerians working with FIFA and CAF Chief Amanze Uchegbulam, Paul Bassey and Sani Toro have called on Segun Odegbami and Urji Uzor Kalu to ‘’stop embarrassing Nigeria’’ as they chase the FIFA presidency.
Former Abia State Governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu first made his ambition known before Odegbami make his intentions known.
According to Vanguard newspaper, former vice president of the Nigeria Football Federation and member of CAF’s Judicial and Board of Appeals Committee, Amanze Uchegbulam say the two aspirants have gone about making their ambitions known in the wrong manner.
He said Odegbami and Kalu should have consulted people like himself who were knowledgeable and knew the working of FIFA instead of allowing foreigners question they positions.
It is not a political party where people jump into at any time. President of CAF, Issa Hayatou is the number two man in FIFA and he is in charge of Africa. Consultation for things like these are first done underground with the knowledge of all relevant people and organisations.”
Uchegbulam expressed his dismay that he know of the two’s ambitions from the press adding that the unexpected calls from foreigners about their ambitions is embarrasing the nation.
They know that we know and expect us to guide our people. But you can only help one who seeks help”, Uchegbulam said. The former first Vice President of the NFF also lashed out at their ambitions saying that it might be beyond Presidency of FIFA. ‘’It’s possible that they are in the race for ulterior motives. I say this because it is a bridge too far for them’’.
Speaking further, veteran sports journalist and CAF and FIFA Media Committee member, Paul Bassey agreed with Uchegulam that the two men are embarrassing the nation.
Bassey told Vanguard: “It is sad indeed that our people overlook us on a subject that we can be of help to guide and to direct them appropriately. Even if they don’t like our persons, they should have asked us because of our positions and knowledge. I totally agree with Uchegbulam that they are embarrassing Nigeria. Not only that, they are also trivializing the whole thing.’’
Another player who is unhappy with Odegbami and Kalu is former house of pepresentatives member and former secretary general of the NFF and former Sports Commissioner of Bauchi State, Alhaji Sani Ahmed Toro who mocked the aspirants saying they wouldn’t even be endorsed by NFF president, Amaju Pinnick.
He said: “They want to test their popularity and it goes beyond that. The rules are simple. I bet you that they won’t even cross the hurdle in Nigeria. It is not even possible for Pinnick to endorse them not to talk of CAF.
He added: “They will not because there are rules and guidelines they do not meet.”
Toro also read Article 24 of FIFA Statutes, Articles 12 to 14 of the Electoral Regulations for the FIFA Presidency which posits: “The eligibility of candidates for the office of FIFA Presidency shall have been proposed by a member association(Nigeria Football Federation) and present declarations of support from at least five(5) member associations ie 5 other Countries. Each member association may only present a declaration of support for one person. If a member association presents support for more than one person, all its declarations shall be become invalid.”
Odegbami was however positive in his response to Uchegulam, Toro and Bassey saying his ambition is not borne out of greed adding that he would be meeting up with relevant authorities at the appropriate time.
Odegbami also said he has a lot to offer for football.
Other contenders include Michel Platini, the French president of European federation UEFA, South Korean Chung Mong-joon, a former Asian vice-president of FIFA as well as the old Brazilian World Cup star Zico and former Trinidad and Tobago international David Nakhid. The South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale is also considering a bid.