By Patrick OMORODION
Much as I know that many people read and like Â Â Â Â Â Â what I write on these pages so also I know there are many out there who loathe what I write, especially when I expose their dirty deals in sports.
Some of those who love to hate me and my views on issues would not mind to give me rat poison and exterminate me from the surface of the earth.
So it was last Saturday, when I alerted the nation of an alleged arrangement reached by the Nigeria Football Association(NFA) with the city of Durban in South Africa to adopt the Super Eagles as the cityâ€™s team for the World Cup. The deal, as it was alleged, is that some bills the Super Eagles will incur while they are Durban, would be written off by the city.
Knowing that the NFA may never disclose the arrangement, I just alerted the authorities, especially the supervisory body of the NFA to investigate the veracity of the â€˜rumourâ€™ so as not to make the government make payment for what the team may be getting free.
Few hours after Saturday Vanguard hit the newsstands, an anonymous writer sent this reporter the following message on a globacom line- 08076007300 which I later learnt belongs to a very top official of the football house.
The message read: Patrick, I am so disappointed in you that journalists of your calibre are not well informed and not in tune with their profession. I have never heard where host cities take the funding responsibility of teams camped in the host venue. Mind you, Nigeria(n) team is not the only team to be hosted by Durban. Agent of Ekeji and Ndanusa, where were you when FIFA hosted U-17 in Nigeria? Has your clients answered your questions up till now? Please go back to school and become useful to our society. The writer then signed off as â€œFriend of football.â€
In responding to this rant of a guilty mind, I want to start by saying that the author of the message is no friend of football but a fiend or better still a leech who feeds fat on football. No wonder when they illegally changed their name from Nigeria Football Association (NFA) to the Nigeria Football Federation(NFF), Sports Vanguardâ€™s outraged anchor and Editor, Tony Ubani described them instead as Nigerians feeding on football.
The official who was ashamed to put his name on the message said he has never heard where host cities paid the bills of visiting teams. If it is strange to him, does that make it impossible. Was is it not the same NFA in the past who paid foreign coaches sign-on fees, a thing that is done only for footballers in other climes?
In fact it is on record that Johannes Bonfrere was signed on for $300,000 but he later spilled the beans, claiming he got only $150,000. Yes agreed, Nigeria is not the only team in Durban, Argentina, South Korea and Greece are equally there but nearness to the venue maters a lot. The distance from these countries to South Africa may not allow them troop to Durban to cheer their teams.
South Africans know that Nigerians are passionate about football and their national team and that they would travel in their numbers to Durban to cheer the Eagles.Â So who says the Durban â€˜offerâ€™ does not make some economic sense.
On the advice that I should go back to school to become a useful citizen, I donâ€™t know what the faceless writer meant by that. IfÂ I hadnâ€™t enough education, I donâ€™t think Vanguard would have employed me in the first place.
Again, must I be anybody’s agent to ask that the NSC should investigate theÂ Durban â€˜rumourâ€™ to ascertain its veracity or otherwise?. On the hosting of the U-17 World Cup,Â since the NFA official knows of the fraud and those who had a hand in it,Â he should expose such people or better still, write a petition to the EFCC to prosecute the culprits.
Afterall chieftains of the NFA were deeply involved in the organization of the U-17 World Cup. They served in various capacities, including Director of organization, sub-seat chairmen andÂ so on.
Ironically, the top official who is busy asking me to talk about the fraud in the U-17 World Cup has failed to tell Nigerians what happened to the $236,000 kept in the associationâ€™s safe which disappeared without trace almost a year ago. Mind you no breakage into any of the offices was reported and yet the culprits as well as the money have not been found till date. As I close this piece, I advise the anonymous writer in the NFA to write a rejoinder that the Durban deal is not true and I will publish it here for all to see and read including the officials of the Durban city council who I am making efforts to reach in order to get to the bottom of this issue.