Friday 24 October 2008

Nigeria: No money to host the Under-17 World Cup 2009

Doubts about 2009 and questions about 2010

The fears that South Africa might not be able to host the World Cup in 2010 might not be unfounded and hence the talk about looking for alternative venues that continues to dog the hosts of the event.

The fears of this becoming a crisis can only now have been compounded by the fact that the winners of the Under-17 World Cup [1], Nigeria has intimated FIFA [2] that she cannot host the event in November 2009 [3].

This event is only going to cost $30 million and the excuse of the current financial crisis is being used to shirk our responsibilities as a great football playing nation.

I am amazed that the government cannot have found and persuaded persons and organisations to bankroll this project before making a public show of our incompetence.

The shame of it all

The great country of Nigeria that once hosted the Second African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in 1977 cannot host a football jamboree for kids from 24 nations for reasons yet unknown, as far as I am concerned.

I cannot begin to fathom the shame and embarrassment enveloping all Nigerians at the crass irresponsibility of our government and the sports officials they have appointed to represent us.

This is not helped by the fact that President Yar’Adua does not believe [4] that hosting the tournament in 2009 would develop sports in Nigeria, the matter of pride and honour does not seem to feature in matters that pertain to the global image of Nigeria in Africa and the world at large.

Would anyone honestly believe that oil-rich Nigeria cannot find $30 million to host the Under-17 World Cup in 2009?

We visit but cannot host

Like miserly friends that we know and love to hate, we have been lavished with hospitality by others but when it has come to our turn we have decided to cop out and in the process saddle other nations with a responsibility that should have been ours.

One can only hope this is a ruse to take the focus of the news away from the fact that freedom of expression is dead in Nigeria – but I worry that when Nigerians are ready to and determined to disgrace Nigeria, they usually do get to do it with such expertise and ability; it takes your breath away.

If anything, it is time to rescue our honour and dignity before we find our winning on football pitches around but get booed for being despicable cads, every time we open our mouths to talk football we would be slapped down with the mockery that oil-rich Nigeria could not host the games – can anyone organise anything in that country at all?

I wonder.


[1] - Eaglets rejoice in hat trick

[2] - Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)

[3] BBC SPORT | Football | African | Nigeria gives up under-17 event

[4] AFP: Nigeria struggle to finance world under-17 championships

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