Former Nigeria international, Chief Segun Odegbami has hailed FIFA President, Gianni Infantino for backing joint bids for future World Cup tournaments following the approved expanded format for the quadrennial showpiece by the FIFA Council.
Odegbami said when sometime before 2004, he proposed a “West African World Cup “, where Nigeria along with its neighbours, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast, would have submitted a joint bid to host the first FIFA World Cup on the African Continent in 2010, “ the idea was called stupid.”
He was happy that on Tuesday President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino backed the idea of 2 or 3 countries hosting the biggest football tournament, as from 2026, following the expansion of the World Cup format from a 32-team tournament to a 48-team campaign.
The FIFA Council unanimously supported the proposal and Infantino has said that FIFA will back any such bids put forward. 2002 was the last time the World Cup was co-hosted. South Korea and Japan submitted and won the bid for an Asian World Cup; it was a first for Asia and also a novel tournament with two hosts.
Odegbami who won the Africa Nations Cup with Nigeria in 1980 spoke with footballlive.ng about the new World Cup format and his hope of Nigeria putting forward a joint bid.
“Of interest to me is the idea I sold years ago, that we should have a West African World Cup made up of four or five countries and people thought it was a stupid idea, at the time and the media shut it down.
“But I am glad that as they have increased the number of participants from 32 to 48, FIFA President himself has now said that it is a great idea, and it’ll be encouraged for three or four or even more countries to come together and host the new format of the World Cup and that will start, I believe, from 2026.”
“So, Nigeria should start thinking of hosting the World Cup along with three or four other West African Countries, for the 2030 World Cup, we should start thinking about it.”