Adamu sidestepsvote-selling scandal

2010-10-31 08:57

Just when his immortality seemed a ­settled matter, Amos Adamu, the cat with nine lives, who represents Nigeria at Fifa, appears to have walked straight into a ­self-made trap.

The London Sunday Times of October 17 carried out a sting in which he was ­alleged to have agreed to sell his vote for the 2018 World Cup bid for £500 000.

Adamu, just like the President of the Oceania Football Confederation, Reynald Temarii, who was also alleged, in the same report, to have asked for a £1.4-million sweetener, has denied any wrongdoing and ­expressed confidence that he would be cleared in the end.

It is hard to tell the basis of his confidence.

A report by Kickoff, quoting close friends, suggested he could have informed Fifa before the meeting in London. A source who claimed to have spoken with him said over the weekend he even sent an email to the “lobbyists” after the London meeting “to the effect that he attended the meeting in his personal capacity”.

Yet a crucial point is not in what ­capacity he attended the meeting, but whether or not he breached Fifa rules by agreeing to trade his vote for ­money that was to have been paid into his personal account.

OK, he reportedly said he needed the money – not for himself, but to build some local stadiums in Nigeria.

But Fifa’s go-between in such matters does not own a single stadium in the ­country.

Fifa boss Sepp Blatter’s comment about ridding Fifa of the “devils” that have plagued it was almost immediately interpreted as the signal of an inevitable red card when the ethics committee turns in its final report in ­November.

Pundits have since been looking to find out who, among Fifa’s “Beleaguered Six”, the devil’s metaphor fits best. Adamu has said that the reference was not to him.

In a country where quota is a big deal, he has even been accused of switching his state of origin from Oyo to Kebbi and ­shaving “Babatunde Aremu” off his name for political ­advantage.

The 8th All African Games in ­Abuja, held on Adamu’s watch as president of the ­organising committee, was a test of his staying power.

In an article for ThisDay on Sunday, the sports editor, Tunde Sulaiman, wrote: ­“Almost nothing happened in sports ­without Adamu’s input.

He virtually ­secured the elections of all the presidents of the various sports ­associations under the ministry, including the jewel of the crown, the Nigeria Football ­Association.

“And when the elected presidents tried to go against the script, he was there to whip them into line.”

Sports generally and football in particular have been increasingly plagued by problems from drugs to hooliganism and from cheating and phantom transfers to game-fixing.

The game and the game-makers do not seem to mind doing extra time, even at the risk of a bad name.

It would be a mistake to think that this trial is only about Adamu and five others.

Before the latest scandal broke, Fifa had tried to shrug off allegations that the ­Australian Football Federation gave pearl necklaces to the wives of the soccer body’s executive members and also picked up the bill to fly the Trinidad and Tobago ­U-20 team to Cyprus, presumably to curry ­favour from Fifa’s vice-president, Jack Warner, who not only comes from Trinidad and Tobago but is also believed to hold three of the 24 casting votes.

Fifa was still trying to tackle the necklace-for-favours allegation when the money-for-votes scandal broke, making the former look like a warm-up match.

The prevailing culture in Fifa of marketing style over bid substance; the absence of an independent anti-corruption agency to investigate complaints; and promiscuity with politicians has stretched the credibility of the game, the players and the regulators.

But the game can still save itself ­before the final blast of the whistle.

» Ishiekwene is a former executive editor of Punch newspaper and a Nigerian analyst

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