FIFA Boss Kicked Out By Nigerian President
By Andrew Jennings
Sunday 18 January, 2009
A bright light shines tomorrow on how one of world football’s bosses does business. Amos Adamu, a member of FIFA’s 24-man executive committee, will be in a Nigerian courtroom demanding a stupendous £2.3 million damages from a newspaper that published allegations about what happened to a fistful of sponsors’ money.
The reporter who wrote the story is promising fireworks. Olukayode ‘Kay’ Thomas, who specialises in unearthing stories that embarrass Nigeria’s sports officials, says he’ll dig into how Adamu runs Nigerian sport – and examine how he became so wealthy during two decades of controlling budgets for major sports events.
Hopefully, England’s FA boss Lord David Triesman is sending an observer to learn about the ways of Dr Adamu (he’s got a PhD in PE) whose vote must be solicited in the campaign to stage the 2018 World Cup.
When Adamu launched his libel action 15 months ago he was the all-powerful Director General of Nigeria’s National Sports Commission. Then Nigerian President Yar'Adua took an interest in how Adamu has run sport for the last two decades.
He’d had a letter from his new sports minister complaining that sport was ‘moribund,’ sponsors wouldn’t part with money because of the ‘perception of corruption’ and it was all the fault of the ‘incompetent’ individuals who’ve held sport ‘in a stranglehold.’
The recommendation? Sack Dr Adamu. And that wasn’t all. Nigeria will stage FIFA’s Under-17 championships later this year and Adamu was overseeing the organising committee. As the axe hovered Adamu placed some calls and his friend FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, controller of youth tournaments, trumpeted ‘There cannot be changes in the committee now.’
Warner was ignored. When President Yar'Adua heard that Dr Adamu wanted $300 million of taxpayer’s money for the Under-17 tournament he exploded. Adamu hurriedly reduced the budget to $70 million but on November 7 last year it was full time and a red card for the FIFA man. President Yar'Adua dismissed him.
Now Amos Adamu, unwanted in his own country, has more time to spend on FIFA activities. But with little track record in football he’s been sidelined onto the women’s, technical and stadium committees, and is available to be courted by countries seeking his vote to host the World Cup.
Adamu can look forward to being wooed by billionaire shopping-mall operator Frank Lowy who is vigorously pushing Australia’s bid. In the queue trying to find out how to make Amos amiable will be England, Spain and Portugal, Holland and Belgium, Qatar, Japan and maybe a few Russian oligarchs. They’ll be studying what puts a smile on Adamu’s face. He’s little-known outside West Africa but in the Great World Cup Race, his vote matters as much as those of fellow executive committee members like Michel Platini, Franz Beckenbauer and Jack Warner.
Adamu was in charge in the 1990s when Nigeria hoped to stage FIFA’s World Youth Championship. Nigeria’s style of doing business was set by dictator General Sani Abacha who stole the government, then billions and would have taken more if his mixing of Viagra and his harem of foreign prostitutes, resulting in cardiac arrest, hadn’t terminated his cruel reign in 1998.
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