BY OBEHI EGENE
Segun Odegbami has blamed former CAF and FIFA executive committee member, Amos Adamu and rival Orji Uzor Kalu for his failure to get the backing of at least five African countries to qualify for next year’s FIFA Presidential election.
The former Nigeria captain said this on a radio programme on Tuesday morning, after the Nigeria Football Federation, which belatedly endorsed him on Friday failed to get nominations from at least five African countries ahead of Monday’s FIFA deadline for submission of nomination for the election in February.
“Where were Amos Adamu and (Orji) Kalu yesterday (Monday)? It’s a Nigerian thing to bring down others. Well, I have done my own bit and it is left for others to do theirs,” said a disappointed Odegbami.
Whilst NFF appeared in a limbo over Odegbami’s application for his endorsement, Adamu who recently served out FIFA suspension bothering on corruption and is currently being investigated by the FIFA ethics committee, was all about town drumming support for Kalu, a former governor of Abia State ,whose only notable romance with football was motivating Enyimba to the Orange-CAF Champions League triumphs in 2003 and 2004.
Eight candidates are in the race for the FIFA presidency after a couple of late entries before the deadline for nominations passed.
UEFA’s general secretary Gianni Infantino announced he will run for the presidency of the world governing body following a last-minute meeting of the European body’s executive committee.
Infantino – Michel Platini’s right-hand man for the last six years – received the unanimous backing of UEFA’s executive committee. Platini has also submitted his candidacy for the election but is currently banned for 90 days pending a disciplinary hearing into a £1.3million payment signed off by outgoing president Sepp Blatter in 2011.
Another former player, Brazil’s Zico, was forced to call an end to his hopes after failing to secure five nominations before the deadline of 11pm GMT.
The other candidates who have submitted their candidacies are Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the leader of Asian football, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan, former Trinidad and Tobago player David Nakhid, former FIFA deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne and Liberian FA president Musa Bility.
A spokesman for South Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale, a former anti-apartheid activist who was imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, said he has secured the five nominations necessary to run.
The eight candidates will all have to pass integrity checks before taking part in the election on February 26.
Infantino, who is understood to have held talks with senior figures in the Asian confederation about standing, could step down if Platini is cleared of all charges, but otherwise would be a strong candidate in his own right.
Infantino said: “I will in due course be setting out my detailed thinking in a manifesto which will address the challenges and opportunities ahead. It will be based on the need for reform and also for a FIFA that genuinely serves the interests of all 209 national associations, big or small, and that puts football and football development at the top of its agenda.”
Sheikh Salman, who is from Bahrain, is influential in football – he commands widespread support in Asia and is a close ally of Olympic powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah from Kuwait.
A member of the Bahrain royal family, he has attracted opposition from human rights organisations due to the regime’s role in the suppression of the country’s pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011.
A statement from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said: ”Sheikh Salman has assured the AFC executive committee, who offered him overwhelming support, and the 47 AFC member associations that his campaign will be entirely self-financed and that he will not use the AFC’s resources, human or otherwise, in the election.”