An executive member of Confederation of African Football, Amos Adamu has expressed “shock and disbelief” over claims by an ex-international, Segun Odegbami, that he (Adamu) sabotaged his plan to seek election as president of FIFA.
Mr. Odegbami, a former captain of Nigeria’s national football team, the Super Eagles, had on Tuesday withdrawn his ambition to run for presidency of the world football governing body blaming his action on Mr. Adamu and another contender for the position, Orji Uzor Kalu.
He said the duo should be held responsible for his failure to get the backing of other African countries.
Mr. Kalu had earlier pulled out of the race.
In a statement by his media aide, Gabriel Omonhinmin, on Thursday, Mr. Adamu said rather than blame him, Mr. odegbami should blame himself for being ignorant of the FIFA rules and regulations and for his inability to reach out to other African countries to endorse him for association’s top job.
He described himself as a patriot, who has spent the better part of his working life over the years on improving sports administration in Nigeria, and who would never do anything to undermine whatever would bring glory and honour to Nigeria and Nigerians.
“It is not my duty as one of the executive members of CAF to help Odegbami secure the support of four other African countries after he was supposedly endorsed by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) for the top job,” he said.
“It was absolutely the duty of Odegbami to go round other African countries to campaign and sell whatever programmes he had, that would improve not only the lot of Africa football but global football generally. If he has done this successfully, I am sure he would have gotten the support of four other African countries to contest the FIFA presidency as stipulated by FIFA’s status.”
Mr. Adamu explained that right from the very first time Mr. Odegbami made public his ambition to contest the exalted office of FIFA Presidency, he (Odegbami) adopted a very wrong approach by spending almost all the time he had available here in Nigeria lobbying and pleading with the Nigerian Presidency and legislators to compel the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF to endorse him at all cost.
He stressed that when it now dawned on him (Odegbami) that he had limited or no time on his hands to get other African countries to support his bid, he rushed to Ghana and Benin Republic to solicit the support of their Football Federations for his bid.
He added, “When the President of Ghana and Benin Republic Football Federations separately asked him whether or not he has sought and gotten the support of Issa Hayatu, who is the President of CAF, for the top job before coming to see them, Odegbami was alleged to have arrogantly said he did not need Hayatu’s approval to succeed in his ambition to become FIFA president.
“The two countries FF President, I was told, allegedly walked out on Odegbami. That was how he did not get their support. The question now is how can this be my fault or my making?”
Mr. Adamu challenged Mr. Odegbami to name the people who treated his ambition with disbelief, or those who sabotaged his bid right from the word go.
He also asked, “If Mr. Odegbami was serious, why was he not in Cairo, Egypt for the CAF meeting to personally lobby the African countries he thought were favourably disposed to supporting his ambition?
He said the ex-international’s claim that Mr. Pinnick, who was in Cairo, Egypt, promised to use his weight to get the required five endorsements, was laughable and childish.
Stating that he was particularly disappointed at Mr. Odegami’s claims, Mr. Adamu said although, he was not present in Egypt for the CAF meeting, the information he gathered here in Nigeria was that, “there were some Nigerians who were determined to stop NFF president from getting the endorsements as they insisted that somebody else had been endorsed”.
He said Mr. Odegbami’s claim that his supposed rival, Mr. Kalu and he were responsible for his failure not to get the backing of other African countries in his quest to be elected as new FIFA boss “is not only weak, but untrue and most unfortunate.”
Mr. Odegbami, he stressed, was not prepared for the job right from time as it was merely “a try your luck thing he did”.
“And what finally knocked him off the contest was his slim knowledge of the rules and regulations guiding candidates who seek to occupy FIFA presidency. These were his undoing.”
The CAF executive member admitted however that it would have been a great pleasure to have the likes of Messrs Odegbami or Kalu as FIFA president if they were eligible and voted for.
He said, “It would have also been a big boost for Africa and Nigeria’s image in particular as a football playing nation, adding that instead of Mr. Odegbami to trade blames, “he should go and work very hard and get himself more acquainted with FIFA status so as to know beforehand what to do if he wishes to contest the position next time the opportunity comes.”