By Tony Ubani
Paul Bassey is one of the very few Nigerians who knows football and understands its rules and statutes. He should know because he is also one man with too many caps decorated by FIFA, CAF, NFF, as a symbol of his knowledge of the game.
A veteran sports journalist, columnist, Publisher, Chairman of Akwa United Football Club, member of NFF’s powerful Technical and Development Committee, CAF General Co-ordinator and instructor on Club Licensing, member of CAF and FIFA Security, member of FIFA Media Committee, amongst others.
Today, Bassey who is respected and revered by many countries and goes as an emissary of world soccer-governing body to settle disputes in football is being ignored like the Biblical saying that a prophet is not recognised in his country.
As the two combatants for the soul of Nigerian football, Amaju Pinnick and Chris Giwa ignore laid down rules and statutes of FIFA and risks suspension for the country, Paul Bassey has lashed out at the “ignorant” sports Minister the Federal Government imposed on sports for toying with the game of the people.
‘’I weep for Nigeria because we have people who know but are not consulted to resolve issues on our football. It is more annoying when you realise that these Nigerians are respected and called upon to settle scores in other countries that have similar challenges.
Without being immodest, there are Nigerians who work for CAF and FIFA and yet our football administrators have failed to tap from their wealth of experience only to plunge us into needless debates. It is a shame. Myself and Aisha Falode, among other distinguished Nigerians, are not recognised. Maybe, because we are Nigerians’’, Bassey, one of the few Nigerians who has covered all the major sporting competitions in the World – African Cup of Nations, African Women Championships, Commonwealth Games, World Cups, Olympic Games, said.
Bassey attributed ignorance on the part of the Sports Minister for escalating the crisis in Nigerian football.
‘’We’ve not been lucky to have knowledgeable sports Ministers. And this is the main reason why we are always swimming in crisis. And it is a pity that those that the Minister surrounds himself with have either not told him the truth or he has refused to listen to the voice of reason. Football laws and statutes are sacrosanct. They are not meant for ordinary courts and any Minister who does not know that is ignorant.
“When we have the opportunity to meet with the Minister, we’ll tell him the truth. What they do not know is that whatever wrong decisions they take against Pinnick, no matter the years it takes, FIFA must return to status quo until Pinnick finishes his tenure.”
Bassey also did not spare Pinnick. ‘’Pinnick has been acting alone. He knows that there are Nigerians in CAF and FIFA but he has simply ignored them thinking his wisdom is enough. We cannot continue like this’’, Bassey emphasised.