By Ikeddy Isiguzo
Let us learn from history. When GENOCIDE was being committed in Rwanda in 1994, US-led United Nations did not want to intervene and so tried to deny that genocide was taking place.
We are committing â€œfootball genocideâ€ in Nigeria. We do not have to wait for FIFA to act.Â Chief Adokiye Amiesimaka, former Green Eagles player of note, 1980 Olympian, former Sharks FC Chairman, former broadcaster, former DJ, former Rivers State Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, now in private practice
IT is easy for despondency to set in when dealing with individuals whose standards are so low that average performances, mostly achieved dubiously call for celebrations. Nigerian football has declined to levels where we are told that timing for disclosing a crime was more crucial than the crime itself.
Arguments against Adokiye naming Nigeria’s captain Fortune Chukwudi as over-aged for U17 FIFA World Cup, were more on the timing of the disclosure. Would he have made a disclosure without facts? When did it become a crime to draw the attention of the authorities to a crime?
Was it worth our while to commit billions of Naira (in a poverty ravaged country) to host an international competition, only to present a team with over-aged players, whose service to the country would be short and forever carry the stigma of cheating?
The most profound response to Adokiye was that he was bellyaching because he believed he was the only one who could administer football. His exclusion pains him so much that he maintains relevance by criticising the Nigeria Football Association.
Does address Chukwudi’s age?
â€œHumanitarian agencies and others that tried to alert the world (on the Rwandan genocide) were described as alarmist or simply ignore.Â In three months nearly one million Tutsis were massacred. Bill Clinton, then US President described US posture as the greatest regret of his presidency. We are committing ‘football genocide’ in Nigeria. We do not have to wait for FIFA to act,â€ Adokiye warned moments after the youth of Switzerland triumphed over Nigeria’s men. Our investment in these players is a waste that worsens with every age group competition.
FIFA totally compromised its standards at Nigeria 2009. Facilities, among them water-logged, floating pitches (after government’s huge investments on them) got FIFA’s approval.Â The most scandalous of FIFA’s conducts was the silence on MRI. Was it Nigeria’s threat not to submit its players to MRI tests that scared FIFA? Why was the Columbian coach asking when MRI tests would be done? Who did FIFA test? Where are the results?
â€œAllegations are coming now because they are confirmed now. We should not forget series of articles on the subject of cheating in the last two years. You do not make an allegation that an offence has been committed until it is! There is no wrong time to do the right thing. It does not matter much if FIFA does not intervene? It is more important if this occasion, fortuitous as it has turned out to be, wakens the consciousness of Nigerians to the perennial challenge and hopefully persuades us to finally confront it,â€ Adokiye continued.
Adokiye clarifies the issue further, â€œIt is not FIFA we are cheating; it is ourselves, our children, at the expense of our future. What does FIFA care if we do not care? I won’t be surprised if FIFA is simply fed up with us. FIFA may also want to save face. It is curious that FIFA can talk of having confidence in its affiliates without making any exception. We know better, don’t we?â€
FIFA’s killing endorsement of the conduct of its affiliates, our own FA being one of them, is the sort of dubious credential that NFA would use in its attempt to cover the crime of using over-aged players.
â€œBlatter only reaffirmed that it is OUR responsibility to do what is right. It is our business if we choose to fool ourselves as we have been doing. It is instructive that Blatter’s country, Switzerland, used â€œbreast feeding babiesâ€ and still won in our backyard. Whoever heard of Switzerland in youth football?Â They are building a solid foundation for their football. We are habitually self-limiting. Soon, we would import not only confectionery from Switzerland, we would ask them to teach us football. Why do we use over-aged players? Why do we not want to grow up?,â€ asked Adokiye.
Nigerians must save our football from the shackles of the NFA and its foreign backers like FIFA, who see our football genocide, but deny it. Nigerian football is bent on self-destruction with the active connivance of the likes of FIFA, whose standards have hit such abysmal levels that it is in good company with the NFA.
MY criticisms of Shuaibu Amodu’s tactics were not in vain. He has qualified Nigeria for the World Cup, for the second time. I think the victory belongs to him, just as I never failed to place the responsibility for the failings on his laps. As the struggle to claim this victory begins, we can almost forget that Nigerians are still wondering which team we would take to South Africa 2010. Congrats Amodu for defying the altitude, it was a matter of attitude.
DO we still remember that $236,000 was stolen from the coffers of the NFA last March?
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