By Patrick Omorodion
With more Nigerian ex players lambasting the Nigeria Football Association, NFA over the Hampshire Hotel scandal, worldâ€™s football governing body, FIFA said that it was the NFA that insisted it wanted the hotel for the Eagles.
Also Nigeria have rescheduled theÂ proposed friendly, match ahead of the World Cup, between theSuper Eagles and theÂ North Korea team for June 6. The game was initially scheduled for June 4 in South Africa.
Demola Olajire declared that the Super Eagles will play their first game, under coach Lars Lagerback, on May 25 in a friendly against Saudi Arabia in Austria, Nigeria Football Federation .
On the Hempshire Holtel : NFA president, Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi had while reacting to the decision of the Sports Minister, Alhaji Ibrahim Bio to cancel the Hampshire Hotel deal said in one breadth that the choice of the hotel was necessitated by FIFA while in another said former Super Eagles coach, Shaibu Amodu actually secured it.
While speaking in Lagos, Alhaji Lulu said that â€œwe (NFA) are not to blame for anything. The whole thing is from FIFA. They are the ones who normally accommodate World Cup teams. But instead, they preferred to pay $400 per player for a dayâ€™s accommodation. It is based on what we have that we decided to settle in Hampshire which of course was also approved by FIFA. FIFA is in charge of security and they donâ€™t toy with it.â€
However when Saturday Vanguard sports put the question whether the hotel was approved by it to FIFA, it replied through its Media Office thus: â€œPlease note that the Hampshire Hotel was selected by the NFF which asked FIFA to include it in the list of options. The Hampshire Hotel was originally not one of the official team base camp options selected by FIFA.â€
FIFA said that though the Hampshire Hotel was not part of the ones approved by it for the World Cup but that the NFF having entered into contract with the Hotel, asked that it be included on the list for Nigeriaâ€™s sake.
FIFA wrote in the e-mail message that, â€œThe NFF in December (2009) signed the contracts for the Hampshire hotel. It is important to note that it was on the request of the NFF that the Hampshire hotel was included in the team base camp options.â€
The FIFA message revealed thatÂ Lars Lagerback may have objected to the hotel after his appointment as Super Eagles new handler, an action that could have led to the disclosure that the hotel was not good enough for the Super Eagles.
According to the FIFA e-mail, the appointment of Lagerback may have been the reason why â€œthe NFF decided to change their team base camp and FIFA approved their new selection to stay at the Protea Hotel Waterfront in Richards Bay with the Umhlathuzi Sports Complex as a training venue.â€
On the fine the NFA is to pay for cancelling the agreement reached with Hampshire Hotel, FIFA said that â€œAs a standard procedure when a contract is broken a penalty has to be paid by the NFF to the Hampshire hotel for not fulfilling the contract.â€
In support of the ministerâ€™s decision to change the hotel, former Eagles players, Emmanuel Amuneke, Thompson Oliha and Dosu Joseph said his action has not only saved the country the embarrassment of staying at a roadside motel but also guaranteed the players safety.
Wandering why the Sani Lulu-led NFA would go for a hotel still under construction, Amuneke said that the NFA as a body is drifting and doesnâ€™t know what to do about administering the game anymore.
â€œThey (NFA) just donâ€™t know what to do anymore. How can they lodge a national team in a hotel that is yet to be completed with no fence and adequate security and expect the players to stay focused and achieve their funny semi final target?
â€œWe will not change the way we talk on salient issues that affect our football. We are stakeholders in this round leather game and they should stop deceiving us with all these â€˜no moneyâ€™ issue. Itâ€™s unfortunate that our football has gotten to this level,â€ Amuneke lamented.
Oliha who also expressed surprise at the NFA action said â€œI wonder why the NFA wanted a kind of hotel which was not FIFA – approved. FIFA has officially listed some hotels for the 32 teams to stay during the World Cup, so why they went for the Hampshire Hotel beats my imagination. They should have kept to FIFAâ€™s regulation and arrangements for the World Cup.â€
Dosu, a former Eagles goalkeeper is sad the way football administrators are running the game andÂ wasting tax payers money, hoping that they may sit up and do the right thing once one or two people lose their jobs.
â€œThey said that they booked the Hampshire hotel in the first place at the behest of Shaibu Amodu. Thank God he (Amodu) has come out to say he was not the one that booked the hotel. The NFA are just running our football the way they understand it.
Iâ€™m happy the minister waded in to unravel the mystery behind the whole thing. They are just wasting the tax payerâ€™s money.
Now they have been dragged to the Presidency, by the time one or two of them lose their jobs, the rest will sit up and do what is right for the good of our football. Itâ€™s just unfortunate,â€ Dosu said.