Nigeria’s Odegbami joins race to succeed Blatter as FIFA president

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Nigeria’s ex-international, Patrick Olusegun Odegbami has announced his intention to contest next year’s election to replace Joseph Sepp Blatter as President of World soccer-governing body, FIFA.

By his decision to join the race for the FIFA presidency, Odegbami stands out as the first authentic African to aspire to the position since Blatter agreed to step down as President.

Odegbami better known as ‘Mathematical’, a name given to him in his active days by late ace sports commentator, Ernest Okonkwo because of his zig-zag, deceptive, extraordinary dribbling skills and mastery in outwitting defenders is one of the best players to have played football in Nigeria.

Liberian football chief Musa Bility remains the other African who showed interest in the Zurich office but his interest was smothered by Confederation of African Football, CAF, which distanced itself from his interest.

Odegbami, in a telephone conversation with a Lagos-based Television Station on Tuesday night, assured that he has all the credentials required for the office of the FIFA Presidency.

He said that he is among a shortlist of declared and likely candidates that includes the likes of UEFA president Michelle Platini and Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan.

Odegbami insisted that if Platini could be considered good enough to seek the football highest position, he sees no reason why anyone should have doubt on his ability.

Candidates have until October 26 to come forward to signify interest. They must have the confirmed backing of at least five of Fifa’s 209 member nations, and be cleared by the world governing body’s ethics committee, to be able to stand.

He has an academy and satisfies section one of article 13 of the FIFA Statutes on such election.

The section spells out conditions a candidate for the office of FIFA President must meet. The article puts it this way:

The candidate shall have played an active role in association football (as a board member, committee member, referee and assistant referee, coach, trainer and any other person responsible for technical, medical or administrative matters in FIFA, a Confederation, Association, League or Club or as a player) for two of the last five years before being proposed as a candidate (cf. art. 24 par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes).

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