Minister of Sport and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung yesterday stunned all when he told the Voice of America that he was against Nigeria’s participation at the World Cup.
His reasons: “That competition stinks of corruption; that Nigeria is too poor to waste money on it and that Nigeria would never win the trophy”.
The implication of his statement is also that it is not necessary to waste money qualifying when you cannot win the World Cup. As shocking as these may be, Dalung, a lawyer by training, said Nigeria should be content with playing at the Nations Cup, Olympics, Commonwealth Games.
He said that Nigeria could win the Nations Cup but not the World Cup. World Cup finalists are guaranteed huge sum of money running into millions.
According to Dalung, “The cup that we can win is the African Cup of Nations. There is nothing again that will take us to another man’s balcony in the name of the World Cup. We already have the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. For these, we can attend such meets. But I am opposed to the World Cup. We don’t agree to it. Conspiracy in the World Cup is too much,” he said, a statement that could upset the world governing body, FIFA. He was not done.
“There is the issue of bribery and favouritism. There is also the issue of corruption before you are even given the hosting rights. We are here suffering from hunger and we don’t have money for such things. That is why, even if we try many times, once it gets into the politics of the game, we can never win.
“That was why this year, we had to tackle him (FIFA President, Ginani Infantino) and we said, ‘you , Infantino, if you win this election, you have to give us a position. If not, we shall not agree.’ And you see , by the grace of God, he even picked an African as his Secretary-General. That means he has started taking honey and rubbing on our lips. That means that one day, we shall get to really lick the honey.”