Patrick Olusegun Odegbami
By Tony Ubani
Patrick Olusegun Odegbami is set to announce that he will stand in next year’s election to replace Joseph Sepp Blatter as President of World soccer-governing body, FIFA.
Odegbami better known as ‘Mathematical’, a name given to him in his active days by late ace sports commentator, Ernest Okonkwo because of his zig-zag, deceptive, extraordinary dribbling skills and mastery in outwitting defenders is one of the best players to have played football in Nigeria and by his decision to join the race for the FIFA presidency stands out as the first authentic African to aspire to the position since Blatter agreed to step down as President.
Liberian football chief Musa Bility remains the other African who showed interest in the Zurich office but his interest was smothered by Confederation of African Football, CAF, which distanced itself from his interest.
Chief Segun Odegbami, our source assured yesterday ‘’has all the credentials required for the office of the FIFA Presidency’’, He therefore is among a shortlist of declared and likely candidates that includes the likes of UEFA president Michelle Platini and Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan.
Candidates have until October 26 to come forward to signify interest. They must have the confirmed backing of at least five of Fifa’s 209 member nations, and be cleared by the world governing body’s ethics committee, to be able to stand.
Our source who urged Nigerians to support the great ambition of Odegbami added yesterday that his entrance into the race would be a good omen for Africa noting that many Confederations will queue behind the Nigerian soccer idol.
‘’This is a good thing for all Nigerians. Odegbami, beyond playing football is articulate and has been in football since he retired. He has an academy and satisfies section one of article 13 of the FIFA Statutes on such election’’, our source said.
The section spells out conditions a candidate for the office of FIFA President must meet. The article puts it this way:
The candidate shall have played an active role in association football (as a board member, committee member, referee and assistant referee, coach, trainer and any other person responsible for technical, medical or administrative matters in FIFA, a Confederation, Association, League or Club or as a player) for two of the last five years before being proposed as a candidate (cf. art. 24 par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes).
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