Wednesday, 7 August 2019

U-20 Women’s World Cup: FIFA tips two Lagos stadiums, 'rejects' Kaduna

The Teslim Balogun and Onikan stadiums in Lagos have been tipped by FIFA to host U-20  Women’s World Cup 2020, which Nigeria is bidding for.

FIFA inspection team member, Sara Booth, gave a hint that the stadiums could be chosen to host the tournament.

She spoke during a four-day inspection of facilities and equipment by a five-man FIFA inspection team in Lagos on Tuesday.

“What we are here to do basically is to inspect the facilities, we know that Nigeria has massive support for football. We are confident. We have visited different hotels, and facilities, because it (hosting the World Cup) involves a lot of processes,” the FIFA official added.

Also, coordinator of the bid for Nigeria’s hosting of the cup, Mainasara Illo, said Lagos venues met up with FIFA’s requirement.

Apart from the Lagos stadiums, other venues put forward by Nigeria are the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba and Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo.

When the team visited the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, the leader of the delegation, Heyral Kaj, said, “We are quite impressed with what we saw here during our short inspection. It’s obvious that the stadium is still under construction.

“I’m quite positive that everything is on plan. I’m basically looking forward to coming to check again in the next few months.”

Governors of Lagos and Edo States, Babajide  Sanwo-Olu and Godwin Obaseki respectively have expressed readiness to host the competition when they received a joint delegation of Nigeria Football Federation officials and the FIFA inspection team.

After the visit, a number of the Nigerian officials led by Pinnick as well as three members of the FIFA team flew to Benin City to inspect the facilities there, before flying to Asaba to spend the night ahead of inspection of facilities in the Delta State capital on Wednesday, from where they will fly to Uyo.

The remaining two FIFA officials and some NFF and Lagos FA officials led by Seyi Akinwunmi, NFF 1st vice president inspected the Agege Stadium, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, University of Lagos Sports Centre and the Yaba College of Technology Sports Centre.

The tour will be rounded off on Thursday when the travelling party flies from Uyo to Abuja, to meet with Yemi Osinbajo, vice president before flying to Lagos for a wrap of the visit and departure to Zurich of the remaining three FIFA officials.

Meanwhile, FIFA may reject Kaduna as a possible host city for the competition over security issue.

Premium Times reports that the leadership of the NFF is keen to have a northern state, preferably Kaduna, as one of the host cities, but FIFA has rejected such suggestion at the moment for security reasons.

Northern states like Kaduna, Kano, and Bauchi at different times in 1999 and 2009 successfully hosted FIFA age grade championships.

But the football governing body has this time highlighted a major security concern about the region and has for now knocked off Kaduna from the list of possible host cities for the 2020 tournament.

Parts of northern Nigeria are currently beset by Boko Haram insurgency, armed banditry, and kidnapping. But a source said as it concerns Kaduna, FIFA was particularly worried about the protests by Shiites demanding the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

“It might be difficult to have a northern state as one of the host cities,” the source told Premium Times. “FIFA has said it is concerned about this El-Zakzaky issue with the FG so they have not approved Kaduna as suggested by the NFF.”

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