A former Nigerian soccer captain has become the second African to bid for the International Soccer Federation’s (FIFA) presidency.
Segun Odegbami, who scored 23 goals in 46 appearances from 1976 to 1982 and was a member of the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations championship team, has vowed to restore confidence and integrity to the sport’s governing body plagued by corruption scandals.
“The current scandal at FIFA is the organization’s worst crisis in its 111-year existence,” he said. “Moving forward, FIFA thus requires a new era of leadership that can restore the dignity of the noble sport. The world is very interested in who becomes the next president of FIFA, considering the present images and state of this institution. I see myself fitting into this role.”
Odegbami, 63, added that his bid will have the “highest sense of responsibility, integrity, transparency, probity and accountability”.
He also said he intends to create a “new and optimistic future for soccer that focuses on human, infrastructural, social and community development across the world”.
The other candidates seeking to replace Sepp Blatter are Trinidad & Tobago’s David Nakhid, Zico of Brazil, South Korea’s Chung Moon-Jon and the Union of European Soccer Associations (UEFA) head, Michel Platini.
Last June, Blatter announced he was stepping down after FIFA was plunged into crisis a month earlier when nine of its top officials were indicted by American authorities on corruption charges.
The deadline for candidates to register is October 26.
The captain of Nigeria at the 1980 Olympics and the runner-up in the African Soccer Player of the Year vote that year, Odegbami said the time has come for Africa to play a big role in world soccer.
“The choice of an African, specifically a Nigerian, may look far-fetched in this pursuit, noting the international coverage of FIFA and the historical trend in its leadership reputation,” he said. “However, a closer scrutiny of the international soccer environment reveals the real possibility of such change.”
Liberian Soccer Association (LFA) president Musa Bility’s bid to become the next FIFA president was recently quashed by the Confederation of African Soccer (CAF), which is the largest voting bloc in international soccer with 54 votes.
The CAF executive committee decided unanimously not to provide Bility, who needed the written endorsement of at least five soccer associations to get on the ballot for the election, with the support he needed.
Odegbami is the third African to make a bid for FIFA’s top job after 69-year-old CAF president, Issa Hayatou, who lost to Blatter 13 years ago, and Bility.
And, former Ghanaian captain and coach, Charles Gyamfi, is dead.
The 85-year-old, who played with his country’s senior team from 1950 to 1961, made history by becoming the first African to play in Germany when he joined Fortuna Dusseldorf in 1960.
“The Ghanaian Soccer Association is deeply hurt by the loss of such a talented soccer player and coach who shaped the lives and careers of many Ghanaian soccer players,” the association said on Twitter.
Prior to going to Germany, Gyamfi was a member of the Gold Coast team that toured England and Ireland six years before Ghana achieved independence in 1957. The barefooted team – they were accustomed to playing without soccer boots in that era – won two of 10 matches with Gyamfi scoring 11 goals.
He was the first African coach to win three Africa Cup of Nations titles in 1963, 1965 and 1982. Egyptian Hassan Shehata equalled the feat with three straight championships in 2006, 2008 and 2010.