Vanguard (Lagos)

15 July 2012

Nigeria: Sports Guard - Fifa House of Corruption

Unfolding events at the house of world's football governing body, FIFA clearly shows that the house is not only one of corruption but peopled by evil men, like its president, Joseph Sepp Blatter once described some of them at the tick of the bribe for vote scandal which consumed our own Dr Amos Adamu and Tahitian, Reynald Temarii in late 2010.

While the Adamu and Temarri scandal lasted, some members of the football family, called the BBC and London Sunday Times names for stoking the fire, stressing that they were just trying to bring down FIFA because England failed to clinch the bid for the 2018 World Cup which was won by Russia.

Like the proverbial tortoise which is famed for always being in the news for negative reasons, FIFA was in the news again last year when the lid was blown open over another bribery scam, this time involving two top shots and vice presidents of the body, Jack Warner of the Trinidad and Tobago and the Qatari who sought to unseat Blatter, Mohammed Bin Hammam.

Both men denied complicity in the bribery scam but proofs against them were overwhelming and they were shown the way out, keeping to Blatter's vow to rid FIFA of the 'devils' in football. Warner threatened to spill the beans and expose Blatter but he later ate his words and was allowed to just resign instead of being humiliated out.

Before the ISL scandal which has now indicted Blatter's successor and longest serving FIFA president, Joao Havelange and his son-in-law, Ricardo Teixeira, who until recently was head of the Brazilian Football Association, Havelange had also been indicted in another scandal in the International Olympic Committee, IOC but before was investigated, he threw in the towel.

The ISL scandal has exposed FIFA as a body filled with corrupt people who can tempt the holiest of men once he agrees to be part of them. No wonder the members are always protecting one another irrespective of the allegation brought against them.

It is now clear that members have used the hosting of its competitions to fleece countries of tax payers money and Nigeria is a very good example. Warner proved the master in this act as he visited the country several times when Nigeria hosted both the U-20 and U-17 World Cups in 1999 and 2009 respectively.

Even though they had it easy in 1999 under the military government of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua could not be fooled as he had to slash the bogus budget brought to him for the U-17 World Cup in 2009.

FIFA's men, both within and from outside found another way to rob Nigeria of her money insisting on handling some projects for the hosting of the competition which they claim must be of FIFA standard. But when European or American countries like Scotland and Canada hosted in 1989 and 2007 respectively, the world saw the use of makeshift stands around some playgrounds but in Nigeria, government was forced to build stadia with bloated budgets which European countries have said are four times higher than what they use to put up their own structures.

The ISL scandal which has now consumed Havelange and Teixeira happened while Blatter was secretary general and one therefore wonders if it could have happened without Blatter's knowledge. Havelange planted Blatter as his successor over Europe's Lennart Johansson and hence the marketing scam was able to be covered for so long until now.

Pressure should be mounted on Warner who vowed to expose other FIFA men who are neck deep in bribery. He was Blatter's hench man for a very long time, cris-crossing countries, pretending to be supervising projects for the hosting of FIFA events and should know so much.

That he was advised to resign and charges against him dropped leaves much to be desired and should be investigated. He must have been begged to mellow as his expose may have a telling effect on FIFA as a body and football in general.

The case of Warner, Hammam and now Havelange and Teixeira would make Adamu a saint after all. Adamu and Temarii only attempted to collect bribe but Hammam actually bribed Warner and his CONCACAF officials for votes while Havelange and Teixeira took bribe running into millions of dollars. All these show that FIFA is nothing but a house of corruption.

Congrats D'Tigers

Nigeria's national male basketball team, D'Tigers last weekend qualified for the Olympic Games, the first time in Nigeria's Olympic history. Nobody gave them a chance when they left for the qualifiers in Venezuela, especially after losing their first game to the host.

Hope was however rekindled after they beat Europe's power house, Lithuania to qualify for the quarter final and Greece to pick the semi final ticket. Even though they lost the semi final to Russia to miss an automatic ticket, Nigerians prayed they should pick the third available ticket in the third place match.

They didn't disappoint and just like they did in Maputo, Mozambique to win their first All Africa Games gold last year, the team propelled by Olumide Oyedeji overcame Dominican Republic fighting with the Nigerian spirit in them.

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