By Philips Adefioye
Former chairman of Shooting Stars Football Club (3SC) of Ibadan, Yomi Salami says President Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s intervention in the countryâ€™s football matter is a good omen.
Salami, son of the former sole administrator of 3SC, late Lekan Salami, told Saturday Vanguard Sports in an exclusive interview in Lagos that Nigeriaâ€™s football is in a deplorable state and that it was the right time for the government to step in and make changes.
â€œNigeria football is sinking and the reasons are obvious to everyone. The fact remains that we really need to make changes and this is the time that the Government has to sit up and say this is not the investment that is going right and make changes.Â I donâ€™tÂ knowÂ what manner of change, but the action taken by the president has signified the beginning of change.
President Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s intervention in Nigerian sports, most especially in football, is the right thing to be done to get rid of the hijackers,Â because some set up of people have taken the game as their own personal business, thinking they can run the game the way they want, sinking the prosperity of the game.â€
Salami lamented that for sanity to return to Nigeriaâ€™sÂ football, â€œthe country must withdraw from FIFA at least for two years in order to put the houseÂ inÂ order which I applauded the President for.
â€œThe fact remains withdrawing from FIFA is the only way out. Understandably, if things are going wrong in the football house and you have an administration that people have no confidence in any more, and the same administration does not want to relinquishÂ theirÂ authority and their positions, you canâ€™t touch them because FIFA is a government unto itself.
â€œIf government sanctions or removes anybody, what happens is that FIFA will sanction Nigeria as a member for going againstÂ the status. Not to be part ofÂ FIFA for the next two years is not too much.
â€œWe need to redevelop ourÂ football from the grass-root, two years is not too long for us to reorganize, reshape and come back healthier. I am not saying those who are there now should not come back, coming back this time around will mean business, they will come to contribute some value. I donâ€™t see something of value added by this present NFA Boardâ€.
Salami, a business mogul stressed that the countryâ€™s football problem was not the players, adding that one could take 40 year old players to tournamentsÂ like the World Cup ifÂ they had been properly groomed and have the fighting spirit in them.
â€œThe greatest problem in Nigeriaâ€™s football is not the team. You can take a team of 40 year olds to the World Cup if they had beenÂ properly treated and if they have the fighting spirit in them.
â€œLet us not focus on the shortcoming of the team. Our shortcoming is our administration, our shortcoming is our inability to get things right when it matters and that is where the problems lies. Even if you assemble the best players, you will still end up with the same problemâ€.
According to Salami â€œlike I said earlier, President Jonathanâ€™s action on this matter will not allow present membersÂ of the NFF who are nursing a comeback to return.
â€œIf anybody has hijackedÂ Nigerian football for their own personal reasons and it is not favouring 150 million Nigerians, then we have to ask ourselves, do we operate on behalf of this 150 million people or are operatingÂ as Nigeria Football Federation on behalf of FIFA for the people?
â€œOne thing I know is that those who are benefittingÂ from the present NFF will never support the withdrawal of the country from FIFA becauseÂ it will not favor them. And for this country football to be re-branded, there must beÂ sacrifice which has been done by disbanding the team and sacking the NFF board and as well get ready to face FIFAâ€™s wrath,â€ Salami stressed.