Five years after he was suspended by FIFA, former Director General, Nigeria Sports commission Amos Adamu in an exclusive interview with 366football.com opened up on the facts that led to his dismissal from the World Football governing body where he served in the Capacity of an Executive Committee member.
Adamu was Director General of the Nigerian National Sports Commission for ten years before being redeployed in November 2008. Before his appointment as Director General, the 62-year old football administrator was the Director of Sports of the ministry for 10 years.
On 17 October 2010, it was reported in the UK Sunday Times that Adamu allegedly agreed to receive £500,000 in order to influence the voting procedure with his vote for the 2018 FIFA World Cup bid –an allegation he denied any wrongdoing. An investigation by FIFA banned him from soccer administration and in November 2010 Adamu received a three-year ban and 10,000 Swiss franc fine from Fifa’s ethics committee after being found guilty of breaching bribery rules.
But the Kebbi state born football administrator who still maintains his innocence says he had to quit FIFA because of Nigeria’s failure to pay the $40m being owed to the World Football body.
“I was approached by people who wanted to bring a pitch to Nigeria and for me it was a welcome development. They asked me how much a standard pitch would cost and i told them about $200,000 dollars.
“They came back and asked if the money should be sent to me and i said no. Bring the pitch to Nigeria.
“My trouble with FIFA was based on ethics, that why was i speaking to people i dont know. Even the secretary general called me and said, Adamu this is not about you, its about your country. Most Nigerians believe i was corrupt but the truth is i was forced out because of the sin of Nigeria.
“During the FIFA U17 World Cup in Abuja, the LOC went and gave undertaking which late president Musa Yaradua signed that Nigeria will pay for the security and that they (FIFA) will be paid after the game
“FIFA then went and spend about 40m dollars. Every match they brought security from England. They provided us with the security that we didnt need but because it was a fifa thing they (LOC) now rushed to the president to sign and Yaradua signed the document. when they brought the bill, Nigeria said they wont pay and FIFA said; loot at the document from your president. It was a big fight and i was in the board then. In one the meetings, we had to adjourn for about five minutes to let tempers cool. Fifa even threatened to take the case to international court.
“I was surprised to see the signed document because they went to the president without my knowledge. After the few minutes of recess, i called some of my colleagues and i told them, you know the president was ill while the tournament was ongoing and he is being hospitalized as we speak. So let’s wait and believe that when he returns to office, the money will be paid. I gave them my word that i will make the money was paid. That was how i was able to remedy the situation as at that time but unfortunately President Yaradua died.
“FIFA then said government is continous, let’s go, whoever is in charge should pay up afterall Goodluck Jonathan who was now in charge of the Nigerian government was the vice president under Yarudua and was in charge of the game. Goodluck too refused to sign. At that point, fifa decided it was a waste of time going back to him again.
“It was at that instance FIFA said they did not trust Nigeria again. Tiil today that money has not been paid. Infact in one of the FIFA meetings, somebody said Blatter must pay the money because we were skeptical about Nigeria but you insisted we must go to Nigeria. Now they have shown you what they can do so you have to pay the money. It was a serious fight during the meeting.
“If you have been observant, you will discover that FIFA have not come to Nigeria for anything again. They have blaclisted us because Nigeria cannot be trusted. Ast at then i was in-line to take over from Issa Hayatou but because they could not trust Nigeria again, i was asked to leave.
“That was the issue that was involved. When i was suspended I didnt feel bad about it because i knew the whole thing that was happening.
When quizzed on the chances of Nigerians aspiring for the office of the FIFA president considering the bad blood existing between the country and the game’s ruling body, the former football chief said;
“No, not at all. These incidents have come and gone. No problem and dont forget that the hierarchy back then in FIFA are the ones that are about to be flushed out now with all the suspensions here and there and arrests. Now that we have an opportunity to field a candidate, I think we should take advantage of it.” Adamu told 366football.com
Former Super Eagles forward Segun Odegbami and former governor of Abia state Orji Uzor Kalu are the two Nigerians who are vying for the FIFA top seat.