Odemgbami to run for FIFA presidency

Abuja, September 2

Former Nigeria skipper Segun Odegbami became the latest man to throw his hat into the ring to replace Sepp Blatter as president of football’s world governing body FIFA on Tuesday.

The 63-year-old, a key member of the Nigeria side that won its first Africa Cup of Nations title in 1980, described himself as an ‘African candidate’ and said FIFA needed a new era of leadership to restore dignity to the sport after recent scandals.

Blatter, 79, stepped down shortly after winning a fifth term earlier this year with FIFA embroiled in allegations of corruption as 14 FIFA and sports business executives were charged by the US authorities in May over more than $150 million in bribes allegedly paid for television and marketing deals.

Seven FIFA officials have been detained but Blatter has not been linked to any corruption case. “The current scandal at FIFA is the organisation’s worst crisis in its 111 years of existence,” said Odegbami. “Moving forward, FIFA thus require a new era of leadership that can restore the dignity of the noble sport and that of this esteemed international institution.”

He added: “Times like this call for all concerned members of the global football family to contribute to the actualization of renewed objectives for FIFA by electing a deserving and qualified person, with the right character that can achieve the desired goals and restore confidence and integrity to the organisation and its activities.”

However, Odegbami, scorer of 23 goals in his 46 appearances for Nigeria, faces several hurdles before he can join UEFA supremo Michel Platini and South Korea’s billionaire businessman Chung Mong-Joon, a former FIFA vice-president, in the battle to succeed Blatter.

Odegbami has already conveyed his intention to the Nigeria Football Federation, as required by the electoral guidelines and FIFA Statutes, as well as to the federal government, seeking their support. Candidates will also undergo an integrity test, through FIFA’s ad-hoc election committee.

The deadline for candidates to formally present their nominations through their home football federations, with other supporting documents, is October 26, 2015. The election takes place in Zurich on February 26 next year.