Saintfiet Divides NFF, As Blatter Warns Board Over Corruption

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There appears to be divided opinions among the top brass of Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, over the appointment of a Technical Director.

While some of the executive members are in support of Tom Saintfiet, others felt the Belgian is too young to be saddled with the responsibility of handling Nigerian football teams.

A reliable source in the NFF told P.M.Sports in Abuja that apart from the crisis which engulfed the Glass House within the past days which delayed the announcement of Saintfiet as the new Technical Director of the NFF, the main obstacle to the former coach of Ethiopia is within the NFF.

“The truth is that some people in NFF are not favourably disposed towards the appointment of Saintfiet. They want the country to go for an older and highly experienced football tactician, but they forgot that sometimes age does not matter for a professional to deliver; but the right environment he finds himself and the support he receives determine a lot,” the source said.

He further informed that Herve Renard, who handled the new African champions at the last nations Cup had already reached an agreement with the then Sani Lulu board of the NFF as Nigeria’s Technical Adviser after the 2010 Nations Cup. Unfortunately, some conservatives in Nigerian football felt otherwise and the plan never materialised and today, the coach is being celebrated in Zambia.

“When Nigeria played Zambia at the quarter final of the 2010 Nations Cup, we saw the good job Renard did with the Chipolopolo. The team dominated but the Eagles won through penalties. After the match, Lulu and others called him for a discussion and an agreement was reached with him to lead Nigeria to the World Cup in South Africa. The same people that opposed his appointment then are also the ones standing against Saintfiet now,” he said.

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Meanwhile, FIFA boss, Sepp Blatter has warned the leadership of the NFF over corruption, saying that the world football governing body would not support its affiliate federations indulging in corrupt practices.

Blatter, who alongside senior FIFA officials received a Nigerian delegation at the body’s Swiss Headquarters, said: “”We in FIFA are reviewing our statutes as part of our reform process so as to allow for greater accountability and transparency. You guys (NFF) are lucky. We are only not happy when we have reasons to believe that government wants to take control of the NFF that has been duly elected or sacks a federation with fiat,” Blatter remarked.

Blatter also extolled Abdullahi for his role in resolving the impasse between the NFF and Dr Sam Sam Jaja as well as Barrister Ray Nnaji, who instituted court cases against the federation.

The FIFA boss described the sports minister as “a young man with great wisdom.”

“We have had this issue on our desk for a long time. Therefore, I cannot thank you enough, Minister for resolving this problem. Football cannot grow in an atmosphere of instability. We are happy that this is resolved and now we can focus on the business of football development in Nigeria,” Blatter said.

—Francis Achi/Abuja

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