The President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick has been elected into the FIFA Executive Council.
Pinnick, 50, was elected as a member of the FIFA Council during the 43rd CAF Ordinary General Assembly which was held in Rabat, the Moroccan capital on Friday.
He beat Walter Nyamilandu of Malawi to the position. He is the third Nigerian to be elected into the FIFA council. Late Etubom Orok Oyo and Amos Adamu were the other persons from the West African nation to have occupied that post.
Earlier in the day, South African billionaire, Patrice Motsepe had emerged as the President of CAF, taking over from Ahmad Ahmad.
“Africa needs collective wisdom, but also the exceptional talent and wisdom of every (national football association) president and every member nation,” he said.
“When we all work together, football in Africa will experience success and growth that it has not enjoyed in the past.”
Africa has suffered serious setbacks in recent years with all five qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia eliminated after the first round — the continent’s worst showing in 36 years.
Last November, Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad became the first CAF president to be banned by FIFA, with a five-year suspension for “governance issues” cut to two after appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Just a few weeks ago, Motsepe, Ivorian Jacques Anouma, Mauritanian Ahmed Yahya and Senegalese Augustin Senghor were locked in an intriguing struggle for the presidency.
But FIFA-brokered meetings of the contenders in Morocco and Mauritania led to mining magnate Motsepe becoming the sole candidate. Senghor and Yahya were given the first and second vice-president roles.
Anouma, who initially declared the pact “undemocratic”, is a former FIFA executive committee member and becomes a special advisor to Motsepe.
As some CAF officials railed against alleged interference by the world body, FIFA president Gianni Infantino played down the role of his organisation.
“I am delighted that FIFA has been able to contribute, even if just a little, to this crucial moment for football on this great continent,” he said.
The Federal Government on Thursday threw its weight behind Amaju Pinnick’s candidacy for a seat in the FIFA Executive Council, further boosting the chances of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president.
While addressing a press briefing in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Nebolisa Anako, noted that Amaju’s ambition will reposition the country on the global football map. He said his election will have a positive impact on African football.
Anako appealed to Nigerians to back the candidacy of the Delta-born football administrator to ensure that Nigeria and Africa’s bid to assert its position as a strong voice in world football is achieved. The Permanent Secretary indicated that his triumph would follow in the glorious steps of illustrious compatriots Dr Akinwunmi Adesina (re-elected as President of Africa Development Bank) and Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (first female/ first African Director-General of the World Trade Organization) in recent times.
“If the NFF President wins the position, it would not be a victory for the Federal Government and all Nigerians alone, but the African continent. He would be a great ambassador of our great country if elected into the FIFA Council. As a member of the CAF Executive, Pinnick is aware of the task ahead and the Federal Government’s support to the actualization of his dream,” Anako said
“On behalf of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, and all Nigerians, we hereby pledge our unflinching support to Mr Pinnick because his victory would be our collective victory,” he said.
“(Sports Minister) Mr Dare believes Amaju can use his position and connections in CAF and FIFA to help promote and develop Nigeria and African football in all ramifications. Let us be resolute and firm in our support…This is no time to stand on the fence, but to be partakers in the scheme of things.”
Vice President, Mallam Shehu Dikko, who stood in for Pinnick (who is already in Morocco), thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his usual strong support for the NFF and Nigerian Football generally since coming into office and assured that once victorious, Pinnick would continue in his usual way of influencing the appointment of Nigerians into FIFA and CAF committees and administrations, as he did while he was Vice President of CAF and has been doing as Member, CAF Executive Committee and Member, Organizing Committee for FIFA Competitions.
“As a FIFA Council Member, Mr Pinnick will also be automatically a Member of the CAF Executive, which gives Nigeria a voice at both global and continental levels,” he said.
“This is not a Pinnick project, but a Nigeria project. If countries like Guinea and Madagascar can have people in the FIFA Council, there is no reason why a big football-playing nation like Nigeria should not.”
President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Engineer Habu Ahmed Gumel, gave a thumbs-up to Pinnick’s candidacy, saying “the FIFA Council seat is important to us, Nigeria and Africa, and we enjoin all Nigerian football stakeholders to be loud in their support for Mr Pinnick.”
NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi enjoined all football stakeholders to join hands with the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports and the NFF to give Mr Pinnick strong support in his bid for the FIFA Council seat
Earlier in the year, the NFF boss had announced that he has been cleared to contest for a seat in FIFA’s Executive Council.
“The FIFA Review Committee has extremely stringent integrity, eligibility and security checks, and it is the first major step in seeking a seat at World Football’s governing table,” he tweeted on his official handle. “With that extremely important test passed, I can continue to push for more representation of the African continent in world football.”
He explained that since he took over as president of the football body, he has always maintained that “Nigeria and Africa deserve to be more visible in the administration of World Football and this is still part of that quest.
“Before our board came, Nigeria football was almost 100% Govt-dependent. Now, we have attained 60% self-sufficiency with our drive to be totally financially independent still in effect. Hopefully, the next President of the Federation will build on what we have done and are doing, while ensuring that the relationships we have nurtured with Corporate Nigeria over time continues.”
While calling for support from Nigerians in his quest, the former Delta Football Association (DFA) chairman believe his experience over the years “has been truly invaluable and I know I can contribute a lot more to the World game while championing African interests as well.”
…for the 43rd Ordinary General Assembly of the Confederation of African Football; CAF, coming up in Rabat, Morocco on the 12th of March, later this year.
The FIFA Review Committee has extremely stringent integrity, eligibility and security checks, and it is the first… 2/
Fifa vice-president, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, will challenge incumbent Sepp Blatter for the leadership of the world football’s governing body.
Prince Ali, who is also a member of the Fifa Executive Committee and the head of the Jordan Football Association, will stand against incumbent Sepp Blatter and Frenchman Jerome Champagne for the top job in May this year.
“I am seeking the presidency of Fifa because I believe it is time to shift the focus away from administrative controversy and back to sport,” he said in a statement.
“This was not an easy decision. It came after careful consideration and many discussions with respected Fifa colleagues over the last few months.
“The message I heard, over and over, was that it is time for a change. The world’s game deserves a world-class governing body – an International Federation that is a service organisation and a model of ethics, transparency and good governance.
“The headlines should be about football, not about Fifa,” he said.
Prince Ali, also head of the West Asian Football Federation, was one of a number of officials who called for the publication of ethics investigator, Michael Garcia’s report into allegations of corruption surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
UEFA President, Michel Platini, is said to be “pleased” that Prince Ali has decided to enter the race and will attempt to get the Jordanian as many votes as possible in Europe.
Blatter has held his position as Fifa President since 1998 and will be running for a fifth term at the 65th Fifa congress in Zurich on May 29.
Fifa has suffered a number of damaging corruption allegations during Blatter’s 17-year reign.
Last month, former England captain Gary Lineker described the way Fifa was running world football as “a farce” after the governing body became embroiled in more allegations of World Cup bidding corruption.
The son of the late King Hussein and the late Queen Alia, who died in a helicopter crash in 1977, he attended Sandhurst military academy before joining his country’s armed forces. He is the brother-in-law of leading racehorse owner Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai. Prince Ali successfully championed the lifting of Fifa’s ban on the hijab in women’s football.