27 September 2003

Nigeria: This Championship Lacks World Cup Flavour

Has world football governing body FIFA, lowered set standards for the World Cup for Women as in other of it's competitions? Or could it just be that FIFA have only allowed the United States Soccer Federation turn this championship into purely commercial venture without providing for any of those necessary ingredients the World Cup at any level is associated with?

These questions need, answers as almost all the teams, journalists, officials have one complaint or another regarding this World Cup and uptil now, no one appears interested in finding answers.

Needs of teams are in short supply. Whatever is provided is inadequate and if you ask questions, say teams are short of water, hotel officials here in Philadelphia respond with rudeness, otherwise, teams must pay. It appears that in granting the US Federation right to host this World Cup, there was no proper grilling about what should be. FIFA just wanted the championship to hold.

All the countries (Group A) in Philadelphia at the Double Tree Hotel in the City Center have only one big Tokunboh Bus to share, as opposed to past FIFA competitions in which a team is allocated a bus to serve for 24 hours. North Korea, Nigeria and Sweden all share this bus at regulated schedules. The reason is that the bus is rented to take teams to training venues twice a day and back. No team must miss it's time schedule or you lose the right. Of course, the driver (name withheld) reminds you he is working with time.

Outside those times a day, a team, if they wish to go somewhere like sight-seeing, would have to rent a vehicle of it's own. Besides, each team has a car allocation, which is available for 24 hours. The snag is just that the USA Soccer Federation in a bid to save cost, does not allocate a driver to the cars each of the teams have. Team officials have to drive the car themselves whenever they wish to go somewhere. But you can only do that if the strict US Laws permit you to drive.

Take Nigeria for instance. The one allocated to the country has become the exclusive use of the duo of chief coach, Sam Okpodu and Nigeria Embassy staff in Washington, Sunmonu Bello- Osagie, just because they both live in the US and have the driving licence. And so, should Mrs. Lizzy Onyenwenwa, who has assumed the role of delegation leader, since NFA member, Alhaja Ayo Omidiran abandoned the team to relocate to New York, want to go to the market for some items for the team, Sunmonu or Okpodu must drive.

the media are not spared either from the shortage of facilities. Accreditation is automatic but use of press tribune during certain matches is not automatic because of lack of space. The media are worse off especially when there are no media kits to work with. Nothing you would find in previous World Cups at any level, including the World Youth Championship that Nigeria hosted successfully in 1999, could be made avcailable here. instead of media kit, it is only a media guide that is given, which more than portrays the host cities than satisfy.

Then, match venue Press Tribune have only rented computers, installed to serve the media on match days after which the owners remove these, to be re-installed a day before the next game. Otherwise, media people who need to work on daily basis to communicate with their office anywhere in the world have to pay through their nose.

There is no media bus shuttle. And the people of the city, most times are unaware about the World Cup, for lack of the necessary awareness. For people familiar with competitions of this nature, transportation is one aspect that are provided at convenience to the media. But here, the taxi formed the media mode of transportation at very huge cost.

Asked about these shortcomings, the FIFA Liaison Official, Pantaleon Ebai said they are aware but that efforts are made to provide these things to the teams especially where they are necessary.He said provisions for the media are strictly at the disposal of US soccer.

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