Barrister Solomon Dalung in an interview with the Hausa Service of the authoritative Voice of America in Kaduna yesterday, November 18, said that it was not necessary for Nigeria to be at the World Cup because of dwindling financial resources, conspiracy theory, inability to win the trophy and football corruption.
Having missed out on a place at the next Africa Cup of Nations, starting in January in Gabon, Nigeria desperately needs to play at the World Cup to make up for the lost chance to play at AFCON 2017 but bizarrely, the one who ought to be championing the cause of going to the World Cup is ridiculously the one kicking against it. 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, and 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 favoritism. 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.