KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Another potential candidate for the FIFA presidency has thrown his hat into the ring. Nigerian Segun Odegbami – former national team captain, official, businessman and journalist – has joined the queue hoping to succeed outgoing Sepp Blatter.
Odegbami, 63, is the second African to state an interest after Liberian federation president Musa Bility. It remains to be seen whether he obtains any more support from the African confederation than Bility who was denied a request for backing rom the CAF executive committee.
Blatter was re-elected last May 29 for a fifth four-year term then, four days later, announced his intention to stand down amid the FIFAGate scandal. A successor will be elected at an extraordinary elective congress in Zurich on February 26.
Prospects for the congress have been complicated by the prospect of FIFA’s 209 member associations also being asked to vote on a package of reform proposals which have yet to be defined.
Other contenders include Michel Platini, the French president of European federation UEFA, South Korean Chung Mong-joon, a former Asian vice-president of FIFA as well as the old Brazilian World Cup star Zico and former Trinidad and Tobago international David Nakhid. The South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale is also considering a bid.
Odegbami, explaining his candidacy, said: “FIFA is undergoing the worst crisis of its 111 years. Moving forward, Fifa thus requires a new era of leadership that can restore the dignity of the noble sport. The world is very interested in who becomes the next president of Fifa, considering the present images and state of this institution.”
He made his name as a player with Shooting Stars of Ibadan winning league titles and Nigeria’s first continental club crown. He also scored two goals in 1980 Nations Cup final when Nigeria beat Algeria 3-0 to win the tournament for the first time. His achievements saw him voted runner-up in the African Footballer of the Year poll in 1980 when he also captained Nigeria at the Olympic Games.
Odegbami added that his bid will have the “highest sense of responsibility, integrity, transparency, probity and accountability.”
He added: “I want new and optimistic future for football that focuses on human, infrastructural, social and community development across the world.
“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.”
FIFA’s reform process has moved forward in a confusing manner. Initially Blatter asked audit and compliance chairman Domenico Scala to come up with proposals but then, in the face of sponsors’ and international clamour, devised a reform committee to be led by Francois Carrard, a Swiss lawyer who is a former director-general of the International Olympic Committee.
Carrard’s own doubts about the status of the committee have been expressed in his stated desire to appoint his own personal advisory board.
The reform committee, comprised two delegates from each of FIFA’s six regional confederations, was meeting today in Bern for the first time. Scala was expected to present his own ideas at the start of the meeting and then leave the committee to its deliberations which will continue tomorrow.
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