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I can redeem FIFA — Odegbami



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Born 52 years ago in Abeokuta, Segun Odegbami is a noble name in Nigerian football. Nicknamed ‘Mathematical’ for his skills, speed and precise crossing from the right wing, he was an outstanding member of the victorious Green Eagles that won the African Cup of Nations in1980 as hosts. He etched his name in the folklore of Nigerian football by scoring a brace in the final of that competition. He had since transit to administration where he has also carved a niche for himself as one of the country’s most renowned. He remains passionate about the game and recently announced his desire to vie for FIFA’s top job in Switzerland. In this interview with ESTHER EGBE, he reveals how he plans to overcome obstacles on his path to achieving his lofty dream

WHAT spurred you into gunning for FIFA presidency?
There is a vacancy that needs to be filled by the right person at this time when FIFA is crisis riddled and I see myself as a viable option in the search for solution.
What will you do differently,if you become the Fifa President?
Provide the integrity and transparency that the organization really needs now.
You have found it extremely difficult to achieve ye desire of leading the Nigeria FF, if you couldn’t why do you think Fifa is a possibility?
The NFF was not possible because of the antics of a cartel that has been running Nigerian football for a very long time. They do not want someone like me to get there because I do not belong.
Who and who has assured you of their support?
I have only just started. I have not even crossed the first essential hurdle – NFF.
Why join the race when Kalu orji another Nigerian has already stated his desire?
I don’t know about anyone else. I know myself. And there is nothing wrong with anyone that thinks they can bring reforms to FIFA to aspire to it. The field is wide enough for all.
Have you reached out to CAF and what was their response to your ambition?
The FIFA elections have nothing to do with CAF. Members of CAF are independent and I would be dealing with them on that basis.
Don’t you think it would have been better to start with CAF?
CAF is a no-go area. The present Executive Committee has amended the electoral rules to make anyone from outside the committee vie for the presidency. It is designed to perpetuate the leadership in power.
Do you have the blessing of the NFF?
From their body language and decisions so far, I sense they are reluctant to support me.
Over time we have seen how much money is employed into securing positions and bids at FIFA do you have such resources to actualise your dream?
No. That is the problem that has brought FIFA to its knees now. The world is a different place. Anyone that dangles money now will not win the elections mark my words.
Have you consider the option of sitting together with Kalu with a view to arriving at a consensus candidate?
That is up to the NFF to decide and explain the rationale for their decision to Nigerians.
Or you think vying for the FiIFA Presidency with a divided house is wise?
We cannot even go there as two candidates. so your fear is unfounded.
How can you convince Nigerians that you have the acumen to lead FIFA ,when you had never served at NFF and CAF level?
FIFA is neither CAF nor the NFF. You do not need either to get to FIFA. We are talking basic football administration. Check out my activities and records in administration and convince yourself. There is nothing special about FIFA. It is the simplest organization to administer.
The intrigues and shenanigans in CAF and the NFF are crippling any genuine effort at administering both bodies with the integrity and transparency they deserve.
What is your view on the state of Nigerian league?
It is improving slowly, but the matter of the use of artificial turf instead of lush grass fields will make the league never to develop to its highest potential.
What do you think can be done to stem the tide of clubs owing players, especially as the LMC had had to sanction four clubs this season?
I have no answer to that. The league is not viable and clubs are not making any money, so it is hard to cope with the huge costs of running clubs here in Nigeria. Until and unless the league is completely repackaged so that TV can bring in huge revenue as in Europe or close to it, clubs would always find difficulty in paying the costs of running the clubs well, including players’ wages.
How can we prevent our young player from migrating away from the local league and fading out after a year?
The desire to leave the shores of Nigeria by all means and as quickly as any club shows up no matter where it s located around the world, the players jump at it and most of the time end up the worse for it. No one sees or hears about them anymore. It is a real tragedy and one of the most intractable challenges facing Nigerian football and players.

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