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FIFA BLACKLISTS NIGERIA, OVER $30M DEBT

By NBF News
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Nigeria, which once used to be a haven to most FIFA and CAF executives, is now a pariah nation. Sunday Sunsports gathered that the two soccer-ruling bodies have placed an 'X' on the so-called giant of Africa for what they described as 'Nigeria taking them for a ride.'

It was gathered from a very reliable FIFA source that Nigeria might not get FIFA's nod to host any of its events anywhere too soon. Reason, according to our source, is that Nigeria failed to offset a debt of $30million, which FIFA incurred on trust that the federal government of Nigeria would refund it at the end of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup (for men).

The amount, according to our findings, was incurred by FIFA on behalf of Nigeria for the hosting of the FIFA World Cup for Under-17, which was held in 2009, as the approval was given by the then President of Nigeria, the late Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, and by the end of the championship, the money was not refunded to FIFA, which expressed disgust at the outcome.

'It's really sad that FIFA has turned its back against us (Nigeria) for not honouring the agreement the football body reached with the country. The Federal Government, under the leadership of President Yar'Adua, had approved an expenditure of $30million ahead of the Under-17 World Cup that was hosted by Nigeria. Unfortunately, President Yar'Adua died and when FIFA came calling for the refund of the money, Nigeria failed to provide it and insisted that there was no document to that effect even when it was still the same government led by Goodluck Jonathan that was still in place.'

Our source said that since it was not possible for FIFA to get its money back, it decided to forgo it, but has said that it would not let the country host any of its major events in the near future until the differences are resolved. It was also gathered that the development was one of the major reasons the candidature of Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima for the FIFA Executive Committee seat hit the rocks even before the delegation left the shores of Nigeria for the elections.

'After that incident, FIFA had declared that it would not have anything to do with Nigeria. So, when the country started to talk about replacing Dr Amos Adamu with Galadima, the body knew before hand that it was an effort in futility. 'Actually, the design was to bring South Africa's Danny Jordan into the FIFA Executive Committee for the mere reason that his country organised the 2010 World Cup and declared profit to FIFA. Nigeria, on the other hand, did not even pay the expenses she had asked FIFA to make on her behalf and as such, was seen as an unserious nation,' our source stated.

In March, the world soccer ruling body presented its current financial report at its Executive Committee meeting in Zurich, Switzerland. Covering a four-year period, 2007-2010, the report showed that FIFA obtained total revenue of US$4billion, 189million, incurred $3billion, 558million in expenditure and had an overall surplus of $631million (about N94billion).

The 'very positive result,' using FIFA's own words, 'reflected the financial success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, which has allowed FIFA to continue with its development programmes and the organisation of football competitions and events. The financial result from this period has also helped to strengthen FIFA's reserves, which now stands at a mind-boggling $1,280million (about N192billion).'

The expenditure profile of FIFA shows that while the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) claims to operate the FIFA-style statutes for its election and administration, there is virtually nothing FIFA-style about its vision for the development of the game in the country. Despite its huge recurrent expenditure on its operations and its very competitive staff salaries, FIFA, statutorily, allocates funds for development projects around the world, especially its Goal Projects of which Nigeria is a beneficiary. FIFA also spends part of its surplus fund on social courses like the Education for All Campaign being promoted by President Sepp Blatter.

True, FIFA is incomparable to the NFF because the opportunities and resources available to each of them are worlds apart. But even from its relatively meagre resources, the seemingly 'perpetually broke' NFF can turn its fortunes around with visionary and strategic planning coupled with frugal and focused spending. FIFA announced last week that it would pay an additional $300,000 (about N45million) to all national FAs from the surplus income it realised from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. This is an addition to the already $8million, which was due to Nigeria for her first round showing at the 2010 Mundial.

Since Nigeria was not expecting the $300,000 bonus, wouldn't it be nice to use it to kick-start the NFF Headquarters project when the cheque lands from Zurich? Just a suggestion anyway!