The recent pronouncement of the Executive Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation with regards to Nigerians aspiring to contest in the upcoming FIFA presidency has been met with fierce criticism as it generates national concerns and could lead to global embarrassment.
In their recent release, the football governing body highlighted conditions to be met by any Nigerian aspirant.
The NFF Executive committee resolved that aspirants for the office of Presidency of FIFA should fulfill the following conditions before the NFF gives its endorsement: letter of endorsement from the relevant state Football Association, provision of evidence of fulfillment of the FIFA Presidential election eligibility provisions, and endorsement by the continent’s football governing body – Confederation of African Football.
But Dr Ade Adeagbo, the spokesperson of a leading Nigerian candidate, feels the conditions have not been set out with fairness in mind.
“The NFF has no business in setting new conditions, they are expected to align to FIFA’s very clear criteria and rules,” Adeagbo said in a release made available to completesportsnigeria.com.
“We deem the first NFF condition as reasonably acceptable, for it can serve as a measure of grassroots support. However, the third condition is nothing but a tacit barrier, possibly targeted at our candidate, whilst it is also objectionable as it is a total travesty of FIFA eligibility criteria, as contained in Article 13 of the Electoral Regulations for the FIFA Presidency.
“This FIFA Article provides that candidates for the office of President must meet the following requirements:
Shall have played an active role in association football (as a board member, committee member, referee and assistant referee, coach, trainer and any other person responsible for technical, medical or administrative matters in FIFA, a Confederation, Association, League or Club or as a player) for two of the last five years
Shall have been proposed by a member association.
Shall present declarations of support from at least five member associations.”
Adeagbo thus affirms that the NFF import of CAF endorsement is outside of the rule of FIFA.
He insists that the requirement of putting CAF endorsement first will make Nigeria a laughing stock as a nation with limited understanding of the interpretation of international regulations.
He believes this also gives credence to the perceived, albeit unnecessary, dependence of NFF on CAF.
“NFF should withdraw this no brainer conditions as they create barriers for Nigerians to attain their aspiration in FIFA. NFF should rather be concerned with easing all challenges and encourage Nigerians who aspire to lead the world football body. It offends commonsense and logic to put continental endorsement before national support. It is like putting the cart before the horse”, Dr Adeagbo affirms.
Although continental endorsement is good, however, it is not a necessary and sufficient condition for victory, as there are more to winning FIFA presidency than having regional support. Previous presidential elections in FIFA have shown candidates without regional endorsement who contested and pulled sizeable votes. A recent example was Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, who did not enjoy the backing of the Asian Football Federation (AFF) yet he was the first runner-up at the last election.
Adeagbo added: “Rather than beat about the bush and push its role to CAF, the NFF should wake up to its responsibilities and take the bull by its horns. “NFF should present a reputable and qualified Nigerian candidate with global appeal and who can pass the integrity test of FIFA – as contained in Article 15(1) of the Electoral Regulations for the FIFA Presidency – and that of the Nigerian population.”