In 2003, Segun Odegbami was appointed the head of Nigeria attempted bid for the 2010 World Cup, which South Africa eventually won and hosted.
The plan according to Odegbami then involve five countries-Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Ghana and Togo.
Speaking recently in Lagos at “The Platform” ‘Mathematical’ as he is fondly called recount how the audacious idea was shut down.
The World Cup was co-hosted in 2002 by two nations-Japan and South Korea.
But because of the challenges arising from having two different organising committees involved, FIFA made the decision to ban any such joint bids in the future.
FIFA Council in January 2017, however unanimously decided in favour of expanding the FIFA World Cup to a 48-team competition as of the 2026 edition.
“In 2003, I convinced the Minister of Sports in Nigeria that we should do an audacious thing.
“So I told Mr. Sepp Blatter (former FIFA President), I said look at the trend of things. Look at the way things are going in the world.
“You are making this world cup expensive, that only few countries can organize it.
“It is not benefiting the countries that don’t have money.
“But now, I am coming with a proposal. He said ‘what is it’? I said look, let us do a 4 or 5 nation (regional) world cup in Africa.
“When it is coming to Africa, don’t burden the countries, let 4 or 5 share the expenses and they will share the benefits.
“And people will have an unbelievable experience.
“The man (Blatter) said ‘Wow! this is brilliant’!; If you put it forward, I am going to support it. That was the promise.
“We flew back, we went to the Vice President (Abubakar Atiku), we told him, and he bought into the idea.
“We went to the President (Olusegun Obasanjo) himself, he approved it. He gave us letters.
“I took the letters personally to 5 African Presidents and they all agreed.
“We did a study on what model to be done,however, it was shut down!
”It was shut down out of fear, out of ignorance, out of the lack of believe in ourselves as Nigerians to do anything that has integrity, that has accountability, that has probity.
An Idea Whose Time Has Come?
In the words of French poet, novelist, and dramatist, “No army can stop an idea whose time has come”.
Odegbami idea of a multi-nation world cup may have been shut down in Nigeria because it sound crazy and unrealistic.
However, other nation and soccer federation are already working with it.
On April 10, 2017, the soccer federation presidents of Canada, Mexico and the United States announced that they would submit a joint bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
In March 2017, FIFA president, Gianni Infantino confirmed that “Europe (UEFA) and Asia (AFC) are excluded from the bidding following the selection of Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively.
Therefore, the 2026 World Cup could be hosted by one of the remaining four confederations: CONCACAF (last hosted in 1994), CAF (last hosted in 2010), CONMEBOL (last hosted in 2014), or OFC (never hosted before), or potentially by UEFA in case no bid from those four met the requirements.
In May, It announced a four-stage bidding process for the 2026 tournament with a final decision in May 2020.
Also, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay are bidding for 2030 FIFA World Cup Finals, while, Indonesian FA wants to lead South East Asia’s World Cup 2034 bid.
In case you miss it, Ghana National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), announced an ambitious-bid to stage the 2038 FIFA World Cup as part of its 40-year national development plan.
The Director-General of the NDPC, Dr Nii Moi Thompson last week revealed that the bid is dependent on the country fulfilling other financial and infrastructure targets set in the draft National Development Plan which was handed over to the government last month.
According to Dr Thompson, as part of the long-term development plan, Ghana plans to host international events like the World Cup and Olympic Games.
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It’s Still Possible to Have A West African World Cup-Odegbami
However, the former Green Eagles Captain, believed the opportunity to have a West African world cup is still feasible.
He notes that the region can use “sports” as a tool to prove it has what it takes to be a strong force in the world adding that the world cup is not a football event.
Odegbami said, “Sports has the power to make changes and opportunity beckons in 2030.
”The 2034 World Cup beckons it will be the turn of Africa, let us resurrect that idea because FIFA already has expanded the World Cup to 48 countries, they have agreed.
“Now they know that a single country hosting the World Cup may never work, people are coming up with idea of a multi-nation World Cup.
“We can have the West African World Cup either four or five or six countries and the dream of our fathers at the independence would be achieved.”
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