Odegbami: World Cup in Nigeria – Jamboree or Catalyst for Development?

Odegbami: World Cup in Nigeria – Jamboree or Catalyst for Development?

Nigeria never ceases to rattle and to amaze me.

With all its chaos and crisis, there is no place quite like the country in the world.

It is difficult to understand what drives this most populous of Black nations on earth.

The Late Madiba, Nelson Mandela, said about Nigeria: ‘The world will never respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The Black people of the world are looking up to Nigeria to be a source of pride and confidence. Every Nigerian citizen should be made to understand this truth’.

That is the burden every Nigerian carries on an already heavily-laden shoulder as the Black person desperately seeks a place of dignity, respect, equity and justice in a world polarized by humans and designed so that he never attains the loftiest heights of equality, forever.

The Black person knows fully well that these things would never be gifted him, and that he would have to work and earn them the hardest possible way.

That state of global affairs is not about to be changed with the ‘gift’ of the opportunity for Nigeria to host the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup. Rather, it may be a clever ruse to silence Nigeria forever, following whispers around the football planet that Nigeria may be considering seeking and bidding soon to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup, an ambition that must be halted by all means for any of the superpowers to have access, for, interestingly, by 2030 it will Africa’s turn again to host the world.

So, even I was taken by surprise early this week when Nigerians woke up to the news that a FIFA delegation was in the country to inspect facilities that the country would need to host the 10th edition of the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup. It was a bolt of lightning out of the blues.

Before now, it was customary that a country that wins the bid to host the major FIFA Women’s World Cup is also given the opportunity to first host the Under-20 version two years before the main event, to serve as a test-run. That makes absolute sense except that this is not the case in this instance.

Also Read: Osinbajo: FG Backing Nigeria’s 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Hosting Bid

The two countries earlier reported to be bidding to host the championship, India and South Korea, withdrew their bids last month. Then, this development shrouded in secrecy.

This past week, there have been all manner of spins and twists to the story of the championship to be hosted by Nigeria: the project had been on the table of discussion since 2018; the project has a national coordinator as well as a consultant; the federal government was aware of it since 2018 and had given its blessings; Lagos State was originally penciled down to host the entire event, but a few more States have now been added (more may still be added for political balance); token ‘fees’ have already been paid to consultants for preparing a bid document that is not required in this case; Nigeria has conditions to fulfill in order to host.

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Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo with the FIFA delegation, NFF officials and other Nigerian sports chieftains at the Aso Villa, Abuja.

What balderdash! The deal is done, sealed and delivered. Nigeria’s name has already appeared on several important forums as host of the Under-20 Women’s World Cup. So, who is fooling who, in this effort to pull wool over people’s eyes and kick-start another corruption rigmarole?

By this weekend the four already selected venues (all in the South of Nigeria) would have been visited, assurances secured from their State governments of their preparedness to host a befitting event, courtesy visits completed, and gifts distributed to the delegation to demonstrate Nigerians’ hospitality.

The facts are as follows:

Nigeria will surely host the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup next year.

Pinnick Amaju’s close relationship with FIFA leadership made all of this possible.

Nigeria’s name is already listed as host of the championship.

fifa-u-20-womens-world-cup-bid-yemi-osinbajo-vice-president-nigeria-fifa-delegation-heyral-kaj-jurgen-amaju-pinnick

Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu hosts the FIFA delegation

The FIFA delegates’ visitation is a mere ceremony, to affirm a disguised ‘plot’ to make Nigeria the preferred African host for the championship, in acknowledgment of the country’s outstanding achievements in Africa.

Finally, there is no other competitor, so there is no bid or bid documents for any scrutiny.

I am in full support of Nigeria hosting the event but for reasons beyond being a catalyst for development of Women’s football in the country after the championship. I believe absolutely in the power of sports to impact a country and make it a better place, but only with the right vision and mandate as well as people with integrity and credibility to run and protect the championship.

fifa-u-20-womens-world-cup-bid-yemi-osinbajo-vice-president-nigeria-fifa-delegation-heyral-kaj-jurgen-amaju-pinnick

Delta State governor Ifeanyi Okowa welcomes the FIFA reps

Even this almost inconsequential age-group Women’s World Cup that nobody wants to host can become a useful tool to kick-start the Black man’s revolution led by Nigeria. That is the source of my particular interest in this.

This event will bankrupt our country. The federal government should have little or no financial input in funding the event beyond fixing some broken-down facilities and infrastructure in a few places.

Nigeria would not need to sweat and break bank vaults to host it.

Already, State governors have confirmed their readiness to partner with the NFF to deliver a simple, uncomplicated football event without all the frills and glamour of the World Cup.

Surely as part of the immediate benefits, there will be fresh awareness about women’s football in the country and that would arouse participation by more girls in football after the championship.

Several facilities around the organization of the matches will also be improved – media coverage, turf, telecommunications, security, medicals, and some hotels for the actual participants and officials.

At the Akwa Ibom International Stadium Uyo

On the limited downside, beyond the above, however, the renovated stadia will be full of empty seats during most matches.

There will surely not be a tourism boost, as foreign visitors will not flood Nigeria.

So, there shall not be any big boost to the Nigerian economy from the event that will ‘come and go’ like all others before it, leave only some memorable moments during some matches as its legacies.

With the current state of insecurity in the country (killings, kidnappings, political upheavals, ethnic tensions and so on) participants are likely to ‘suffer’ a repeat of the 2009 World Championships when a tight security cordon restricted movements by the participants and officials to between their hotel rooms and the venues of the matches only. A health warning also ensured that most teams were in a ‘medical prison’ throughout

That must not be the case this time around. The objective has to change and be expanded.

Nigeria must turn this seemingly inconsequential event into one that will titillate FIFA. The country must make FIFA see beyond their wildest dreams about what this championship could achieve hosted by the greatest Black country on earth. Nigerians must reach for the skies and put up a true festival of women’s football far beyond the football field.

The State governments, where the matches will take place, must become very creative. They must set up a separate unit in government to create massive social engagement platforms with the people, empower them in the process with opportunities to drive local commercial activities and boost the night and day economy around the championship venues and towns. Even neighbouring States will not be left out in what could become a socio, economic, cultural and entertainment extravaganza.

At the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba

Should we fail to make a massive impression with this simple event, we might as well kiss any chance of hosting a bigger event in the near future, good bye.

Should we succeed in making something out of this ‘nothing’, then we would stand on the periphery of greatness, having laid the basis to become the country that Nelson Mandela said Nigeria has to be for the Black person on earth to earn respect and confidence.

After this, Nigeria should be given the right to host the 2013 Women’s World Cup (the WC has become a massive event after France 2019), and subsequently, the FIFA World Cup in 2030 when it will be Africa’s turn again to host, and with a little bit of luck, to win for the first time in history.

Who knows, that could be what Nelson Mandela had in mind!

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COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 7
  • chuks haifa 2 months ago

    True talk! An avenue to loot more money! They should invest that money in education. pipe borne water, agriculture and most importantly security.

     
  • Sunnyb 2 months ago

    Time to loot, corruption and mediocrity would be in effect big time. Bunch of unhumane creatures, go ahead and disgrace your selves  Power failure, kidnappings during the competition, Fulani republic of west Africa.i hail.

     
  • Omo9ja 2 months ago

    This is what I said yesterday. These groups of people doesn’t care about Nigerians.

    They are wicked, callous and ready to bring Nigeria down. They will fail to host the championship by God’s grace because our Country is not settle and they are hosting this kind of tournament in this situation means our leaders are bad. Shio.

    God bless Nigeria!!!

     
  • These group of critics are the same people if called to be part of the organizing committee member will gladly join. Segun Odegbami is only just learning the trick now. He has always been losing all elections. He now believes if he comes to the media using his privileges as a columnist/presenter to attack attack attack negatively, he will be invited to join the “ghana-must-go” gang. He wants to get back his money the Nigerian way. Watch out!!! He will soon be given some assignment to quite him and he will stop this attack attack gambit. I am not deceived one bit. Many Nigerians are not deceived too. Just a few Okada riders will fall for this time tested tricks. We have seen people like him before. Politicians. No be new thing. The news is that Nigeria is hosting a women world cup and Segun Odegbami is not part of the party. He dey paini me well well.

     
  • Oga please give honor to whom honor is due,when the mathematical speaks we should all listen, forget sentiments he played for Nigeria over a long period of time and he even captained our national team after which he single handedly prepared our first ever Olympic gold medalist at the 1996 Atlanta competition in USA. Now he has a sports academy where he prepares the future stars that will fly our flag tomorrow. So let us not reduce him to the level of those parading themselves as sports administrators but have no contribution to the development and growth of our sports especially football. Hosting of competitions have always been a conduit pipe for the looting of our money by these so called sports administrators. About 80% to 90% of our kids are in schools( Pry – Higher institutions) and there is no competition in our schools and we want to win the world cup.

     
  • Adisboy 2 months ago

    You guys are getting it all wrong. Unlike the tournaments we hosted before, we are not building any infrastructure for this tournament. The hosting states already either had the infrastructure on ground or had ongoing projects going on. FG involvement would only be in the area of logistics and security. That is why Uyo, Asaba, Benin & Lagos were deliberately chosen. Before it would have been spread all over the country.These states had other sporting projects they were preparing for. The normally federal govenment spending WILL NOT be there. This is basically an opportunity by the host states to test their facilities plus highlight female football a bit more. Lets us look at this without emotion abeg.

     
  • Johnson F. Moses 2 months ago

    Well said Segun. I believe you see beyond many of us because you are one of the’been there done that’ guys. Notwithstanding, I must say I’m personally elated seeing the news that we’re hosting a FIFA event again. It will end in praise believe me. We can do better than last time out. Let’s keep hope alive.