Ex-Nigerian International, Segun Odegbami, has pulled out of the February 26, 2016 FIFA presidential election, following his inability to secure the required backing to make him a qualified contestant as at Monday midnight deadline given by FIFA.
Odegbami’s withdrawal may not be unconnected to the late endorsement of his bid by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and his inability to secure written endorsements from about four other national football federations as well as confirmation of his active role in football affairs in two of the past five years.
According to Ade Adeagbo, head of the campaign team for the Odegbami FIFA Presidential bid, while the NFF made verbal pronouncement of endorsing Odegbami over the weekend, official documents to that effect were only received on Monday afternoon-hours before the deadline set by FIFA.
“We would have wished that the NFF gave us this endorsement earlier than they gave us… yes we were warmly received in our trips to the West and Southern coasts of Africa and we even touched some European countries. But in all; everybody that wanted to offer support said we need to get our home FA approval first which is understandable,” he stated.
To be qualified for FIFA Presidency, a candidate must, among other things, obtain a minimum of five written endorsements from national football federations plus a declaration of a role in the game in two of the past five years.
Dr. Orji Uzor-Kalu, Nigeria’s second FIFA Presidential aspirant pulled-plug on his bid soon after it was launched for similar qualification concern, leaving just two other Africans – Musa Bility, the President of the Liberian federation, and Tokyo Sexwale, a South African businessman as the continent’s flag-bearers in the race.
Aside the African duo, six other contestant are also confirmed to be in the race – Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Michel Platini, Jerome Champagne, David Nakhid, Shaikh Salman Bin Brahim Al Khalifa and Gianni Infantino.
The World Football’s governing body has confirmed it will hold the election to determine Stepp Blatter’s successor at a special congress on February 26, 2016.
By Olisemeka Obeche