afrol News, 20 January - Nigeria's 2010 World Cup bid has been extended to include Cameroon, Benin, Togo and Ghana to strengthen the application. The West African countries therefore will become a stronger competition the South African and Egyptian/Tunisian bids. As Germany was awarded the 2006 World Cup in close competition with South Africa, FIFA leader Sepp Blatter had indicated that "next time" it should be Africa's turn.
The Nigerian Minister of Sports and Social Development, Steven Ibn Akiga, in a communiqué informs that Nigeria is ready to formalise a combined bid with four other West African neighbours. The Nigerians were heading the combined bid.
Minister Ibn Akiga said the extension of the bid had been "an expression of our country's belief in strengthening the African Union and our Ecowas sub-region by breaking down the walls that separate our peoples, through the boundaries of variation in time zones, languages and culture." The combined bid would also help alleviate Nigeria's lack of facilities to host the 2010 event.
- Further more, the Minister added that "the co-hosting is to boost sub-regional road net work, international trade, unity, communication, health care facilities, tourism and radically promote wider understanding amongst our various peoples and cultures." Mr Ibn Akiga said that his Ministry was conscious of the "huge development opportunities that would come with a bid of this nature," not only within Nigeria but along the entire West Coast with football serving as the catalyst.
According to the Minster, government would not yet put money into the venture, saying that the committee is expected to do all within its powers to "mobilise all categories of Nigerians and put our nation on the world map." He however mentioned plans to "commence the refurbishing and restoration of the entire [Abuja] National stadium edifice to its glorious past."
The West African bid for the 2010 World Cup will have fierce competition from other African bidders, who believe their turn has come. The favourite among African countries - or the absolute favourite to the bid - remains South Africa. South Africa had only lost out to Germany by one vote in its bid for the 2006 World Cup, in a vote that was marked by scandals. Many within FIFA believe that South Africa - and Africa at large - had been cheated.
South Africa also has the best sports facilities, infrastructure, economy and political stability (including democracy and human rights) among the African bidders. The country also has sufficient experience in organising large international tournaments and has a professional and experienced team marketing the South African bid.
Also a combined Egyptian-Tunisian bid - which not has been clearly stated yet - is given a positive outlook. The two countries combined have all the needed facilities, Africa's longest experience in organising soccer tournaments and has credibility with the FIFA leadership, where Tunisia has a representative. The proximity to Europe is also a positive detail.
There remain the bids of Morocco and Libya. Morocco has been close several times since the country started applying regularly in the 1970s. Closeness to Europe is however outweighed by the country's lack of funds and standard facilities. Libya is not thought to be taken as a serious bidder by anyone.
The Nigerian-led bid for a World Cup in West Africa seems to have little to offer compared to a South African and combined Egyptian-Tunisian bid, even the Nigerian press notes. Analyst Ademola Olajire of the Lagos-based daily 'Vanguard' says Nigeria is entering the race too late and is not sufficiently prepared; neither in the organisation of the bid or in national facilities. Further, there was no previous experience.
- There is another thing that Nigerians love to gloss over, Mr Olajire noted. "The world, in truth, hates us." His "verdict" therefore is: "A bid by Nigeria to host the 2010 World Cup finals can only provide us with experience for next time. Anyone expecting the finals to be given to Nigeria is only living in a fool's paradise!"
This verdict was made before Minister Ibn Akiga announced that Cameroon, Benin, Togo and Ghana also would participate in the bid. The Nigerian Minister claimed to be optimistic, even though international observers remain sceptic to Nigeria's name attached to a World Cup bid. The recent Miss World pageant, which had to be moved from Nigeria to the UK, did not improve Nigeria's image as a host country. Maybe Cameroon, Benin, Togo and Ghana had been better off alone?
Sources: Based on Nigerian govt and press, FIFA and afrol archives