By Onochie Anibeze
Attention Nigerians: President Umar Yarâ€™Adua promised the world that Nigeria would stage a wonderful Under 17 World Cup. He boasted of Nigeriaâ€™s hospitality that will thrill visitors. But it may interest you to know that these will be far fetched.
In fact, Nigerians m
ay no longer be proud of hosting this tournament because rather than improve their rating before international bodies like FIFA and boost tourism that is usually influenced by experiences of the participants and reports ofÂ journalists and delegations, Nigeria 2009 will cast a slur on Nigerians and even reduce their chances of hosting future world championships.
Take this: A FIFA official went to the hotel meant for them in Bauchi three days ago. The hotel rejected him on the basis that they were not yet ready to accommodate them.
This was one of the incidents in the catalogue of disappointments FIFA has noted on arrival. Many things were yet to be ready.Â There are problems of accreditation.Â FIFA has noted that as at Wednesday only Abuja and Kaduna could accredit participants who actually started arriving since Monday. Lagos joined yesterday and started accrediting people.
Many practice pitches were yet to be ready. There were also problems with the flood lights in some stadia. The quality of illumination was yet to meet FIFA standards in some stadia.
There were also technical problems in the areas of communication and transportation. FIFA was shocked to find no computers in some media centres. Some which had were not internet connected. FIFA has also noted the facts that the Local Organising Committee, LOC, is owing some workers and contractors who have threatened to disrupt the tournament in Nigeria.
The LOC has been battling with serious financial problems which have crippled their activities. Hard hit are chairmen of the sub-seats who have been battling to ensure that they host a successful tournament. From all indications, that will be a mirage.
About N9 billion approved for the organisation of the event has been exhausted and even logistics are now threatened. Nigeria is setting records that may interest the world in the organisation of international championships.
The championship starts tomorrow and FIFA will address the media today.