Pinnick to vie for FIFA council membership as Ivoirien, South African, Tunisians battle for CAF presidency

Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Melvin Pinnick has disclosed his intention to vie for membership of the FIFA Council, which is the highest decision making body in world football.

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Pinnick was earlier touted as a candidate for Confedertation of African Football (CAF) presidency, but the former CAF Vice president in a statement made available to The Guardian yesterday has now thrown his hat into the ring for the FIFA executive position.

He said, “Following consultations far and wide and within the broad spectrum of continental and global footballing interests and concerns, I have decided to be a candidate for the FIFA Council at the next Elective Congress of the Confederation of African Football scheduled for March 21, 2021 in Rabat, Morocco.

“For me, it has never been a matter of personal ambition. Always, it has been the passion for service and desire to change the old ways of things and embrace wholeheartedly the new and exciting, and more innovative and impactful ways.

I come from a very small minority ethnic group in my native Nigeria, a part of the country known as the Niger Delta, known globally for its combustibility and ruggedness, indeed with a touch of brilliance and resilience. Scores of Nigeria’s most famous football players ever hail from the Delta region, and our football culture is enrapturing. So, I cottoned on to football from an early age.”

The Nigerian football boss, who was instrumental to the candidature of Ahmad Ahmad and subsequent election as CAF president in 2016, added: “In an alignment of forces with kindred spirits, we were able to effect a change at the top of African football administration, tossing out a 29-year old conservative regime. Opportunities and possibilities have been presented to the hierarchy to make positive changes since then but these have been, nonchalantly, frittered away.

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“For more than six years, I have worked very hard, with like minds, to effect a positive change in the administration of football in Nigeria, and this has been attested to by many. As first Vice President of CAF and President of the Organizing Committee of the AFCON, I know the hard work and commitment that went into enabling the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt. At great personal risk, I toured all the venues in Egypt, travelling at night most of the time, all to ensure the success of the tournament, yet gave all the credit to the President.

“At the unexpected turn of events (non-renewal of my tenure as first Vice President), I took solace in the words of Romans 8:28: “Everything worketh for good for those who love God.” I stand tall today, that every gospel of change that I preached, has been vindicated.”

He affirmed his commitment to contribute to the renaissance of African football and African football administration, adding, “I am aware of the immense plans and programmes of FIFA President, Mr. Gianni Infantino, for the African game, and it will take men of mettle, selflessness, clear and scientific thinking, acuity, sapience and resourcefulness to give him the support he needs to bring all those plans to fruition. In a fast –changing global environment with ever –improving technology, we must be able to adopt and adapt, upscale and upgrade and be fluid in the way we do things in order to stay relevant and competitive.”

He pledged to help develop African football at both local and continental level, adding that his sojourn in FIFA would also enable him contribute to the emergence of the next generation of african great footballers.

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“I believe that with my experience, my knowledge and my passion, I can make a huge difference in the governance of football in Africa in my position as FIFA Council Member, ipso fact CAF Executive Committee Member. The voice of Africa will be heard loud and clear; and the interests of Africa will be served to the fullest.

“What is more; I will be working under the leadership of one of the biggest international bodies in the world where every knowledge and experience can and will be brought to bear, especially in the areas of governance, quality service delivery, transparency, accountability, resource management and development. Such knowledge, unquantifiable, might just come to be useful over time, in the direct running of the game in the future.”

Meanwhile, South Africa’s Patrice Tlhopane Motsepe, has indicated his interest in replacing the embattled Ahmad Ahmad as CAF president.

Motsepe, who is rated as one of the richest men in Africa, is the owner of South African with Cote d’Ivoire’s Jacques Anouma and two Tunisians, Tarek Bouchamaoui and Wadie Jary, who is the current head of Tunisia Football Federation, for African football’s top job.

The 58-year-old businessman with a net worth of $2.4 Billion is said to be banking on Pinnick’s support for his position.

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