FIFA PRESIDENCY: Former Nigerian International Enters Race


One of Nigeria’s football greats, Segun Odegbami, popularly called the “Mathematical Odegbami,” who played for the Super Eagles (then called “Green Eagles”) between 1976 and 1981, has taken the bull by the horn by throwing his hat into the race for the vacant topmost job in the world’s football governing body, FIFA, following the footsteps of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, who is nursing the ambition to run for the said vacant position.

The football legend, who is also one of the greatest Nigerian players of all time, made his interest known yesterday, in a statement released by his campaign team as he becomes the second Nigerian who is showing interest in world football’s top job – to succeed Mr. Sepp Blater.

Like other aspirants, Odegbami, who was known for his masterful exhibition of engineered dribbles, technical control of the ball and goal-scoring skills during his footballing era, is leveraging on the current corruption scandal at FIFA which forced the current President, Sepp Blatter, to resign from his position as president in June 2015. The scandal, according to reports, is the worst crisis to hit the organisation in its 111 years of existence.

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“Moving forward, FIFA thus requires a new era of leadership that can restore the dignity of the noble sport and that of this esteemed international institution with global followership. To address the issue will demand that FIFA purges itself, launders its image, restores its reputation and reinstates integrity into its activities and operations. This would require a new form of leadership with a renewed vision. In the statement released by the spokesman for his campaign team, Dr. Ade Adeagbo, Odegabmi said he had already conveyed his intention to the NFF, as required by the electoral guidelines and FIFA Statutes. The statement read:

“Times like this call for all concerned members of the global football family to contribute to the actualization of renewed objectives for FIFA by electing a deserving and qualified person, with the right character that can achieve the desired goals and restore confidence and integrity to the organization and its activities. The world is very interested in who becomes the next President of FIFA, considering the present image and state of this institution and I see myself fitting into this role.

“My bid will have the highest sense of responsibility, integrity, transparency, probity and accountability. The choice of an African, specifically a Nigerian, may look far-fetched in this pursuit, noting the international coverage of FIFA and the historical trend in its leadership reputation, however, a closer scrutiny of the international football environment reveals the real possibility of such change.

“The process for the attainment of the position of President of FIFA is a long and tedious journey, which Segun Odegbami is prepared to travel,” the statement concluded.

With Mr. Blatter out of office, a fresh election is scheduled to take place on the February 26, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland, with UEFA President, Michel Platini and South Korea’s Chung Mong-joon seen as favorites.

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The deadline for candidates to formally present their nominations through their home football federations, with other supporting documents, is October 26 October 2015, before undergoing an integrity test, through FIFA’s ad-hoc election committee.

It remains to be seen if the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) will back the ambition of OUK or that of Odegbami, as the contestant must have the backing of their home football federations in order to qualify as candidates for the election.