FIFA president Gianni Infantino is running unopposed in his bid for a second term as the head of world football’s governing body, but that does not mean everyone approves of his job performance.
Least of all his predecessor, Sepp Blatter, who led FIFA from 1998 to 2015, when he was forced out in disgrace amid a global corruption scandal.
“I want to sue him,” Blatter said of Infantino, the man he blames for a host of offences — both personal and in his stewardship of FIFA, where Blatter worked for 41 years.
In an interview with AFP, Blatter accused Infantino and FIFA of failing to return personal items that he left in his old office and of unfairly implicating him in financial misconduct.
Blatter said he wants an admission that he has been “hurt” by FIFA.
“Both me and my family, my entire entourage, by saying that this guy was using (FIFA) like a piggy bank. This is a question of honour,” Blatter said.
Blatter, who like Infantino is a Swiss national, remains the target of a criminal investigation in Switzerland, but the case has not yet come to court after nearly four years of investigation.
Blatter particularly disputes allegations by FIFA that he received a 12 million Swiss franc ($12 million, 10.6 million euros) bonus following the 2014 World Cup.
He said his suit against FIFA and Infantino would be filed “before the end of the month.”
– ‘Curious’ meetings –
The Swiss case against Blatter has been clouded in recent weeks by the opening of a disciplinary investigation targeting the man leading the probe, the country’s attorney general Michael Lauber.
Lauber has reportedly met Infantino informally three times, which raised eyebrows because FIFA is directly implicated in the Swiss investigation.
The meetings between Lauber and Infantino were set up by Rinaldo Arnold, a prosector in the southern Swiss canton of Valais and a childhood friend of the current FIFA president.
Blatter said the relationship between Arnold and Infantino was “a major question mark.”
After Lauber’s first two meetings with Infantino came to light, he told an oversight body that there were no other meetings.
Then, weeks later, Swiss media reported a third meetings, which triggered the disciplinary probe.
“It’s a general amnesia in Switzerland,” Blatter said regarding the apparent lapses in the attorney general’s account, describing the entire ordeal as “curious.”
Turning to the governance of world football, Blatter accused Infantino of conducting himself with “a lack of transparency,” especially concerning plans to expand the World Cup to 48 teams.
“This is what (Infantino) was preaching, to be the man of transparency. But it is not enough to look transparent,” Blatter said.
FIFA has confirmed the tournament will expand from 32 to 48 for the World Cup the North America World Cup in 2026, but a tentative plan to enlarge Qatar 22 has been scrapped.
U20 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: FIFA inspection team arrives today
FIFA inspection team will arrive in Nigeria today to inspect facilities for the country’s FIFA U20
Women’s World Cup 2020 hosting rights bid, the Nigeria Football Federation [NFF] confirmed on Sunday.
Christopher Exley, Sara Jane Booth, Kliment Taseski, Rhiannon Ceirwen Martin and Heyral Kaj Jurgen are the FIFA officials expected in Abuja by Nigeria’s top football officers.
The FIFA delegation from the headquarters of world football body in Zurich will make a detailed inspection of the hosts’ venues, training grounds, hospitals and stadia earmarked for the event.
In a statement to the press, NFF spokesman Ademola Olajire said Lagos, Asaba, Benin City and Uyo have been picked as the four host cities for the women’s age-grade tournament billed for the summer of 2020.
“A five-man inspection team from world football governing body, FIFA will arrive in Lagos on Monday for a four-day inspection of facilities and equipment that Nigeria has put forward to host the 10th FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup championship next year,” the statement read.
“The inspection team will begin its work in Lagos on Tuesday, with visits to the Onikan Stadium (match venue), St. Nicholas Hospital and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (referral hospitals), Teslim
Balogun Stadium, National Stadium Legacy Pitch, Eagle Club, Campos Square and the University of Lagos Sports Centre (training sites) before a courtesy call on Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Government House in Alausa.
“Joined by NFF President Pinnick, General Secretary Sanusi, Mainasara Illo (Coordinator of the Bid), Aisha Falode, Commissioner of Police Garba Baba (security) and Dr. Paul Onyeudo (medical), the team will fly to Benin City same day to inspect facilities at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium (match venue), Western Boys College and University of Benin Sports Centre (training sites) and the Edo Specialist Hospital and University of Benin Teaching Hospital (referral hospitals).
“The contingent will check out the facilities in Asaba and Uyo on Wednesday. In Asaba, the Stephen Keshi Stadium is the proposed match venue, while training sites are Asaba Squash Courts and St. Patrick’s College. The referral hospitals are St. Luke’s Hospital and Asaba General Hospital.
“In Uyo, the focus will be on the Godswill Akpabio Stadium (match venue), Ikot Ekpene Stadium and Godswill Akpabio Training Pitch (training sites) and Ibom Specialist Hospital and University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (referral hospitals).
“The inspection party will then fly to Abuja on Thursday for a meeting with the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mr. Olusade Adesola (representing the Honourable Minister) and a courtesy call on His Excellency, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (GCON) at the Presidential Villa.”
Nigeria reached the final in 2010 and 2014 but lost to Germany on both two occasions.
No African nation has hosted a FIFA organised women’s football tournament – a streak Nigeria will be aiming to break by staging the 10th edition next year.
Nigeria beat Cameroon to reach Quarter-Finals
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have qualified for the quarter-finals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, after defeating the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon 3-2 in Alexandria.
Odion Ighalo scored a brace, and Alex Iwobi got one goal to book Nigeria a match next Wednesday with the winner between Egypt and South Africa.
Buhari urges Super Eagles to honour Nigeria in AFCON
President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the Super Eagles to play every match for the honour of their motherland as they file out in their first match against Burundi in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON 2019), holding in Egypt.
The President, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Saturday, urged the Eagles to lift the flag of Nigeria high, and reinforce the reputation of the country as a football powerhouse on the continent.
He said: “I will be watching, just as millions of Nigerians would also do.
“You have our solid support, and we will cheer you to victory,”he said.
He added: “Nigerians are known for their unconquerable spirit. Show this in the group stages, and even beyond. Nothing but lifting of the diadem is good enough for our country,”he stated.
He also enjoined the Super Eagles to be mindful of fair play, and sportsman like conduct, as they strive to return home with the AFCON trophy.