Nigeria could abandon hosting 2009 FIFA Under-17 football tournament

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Nigeria may not host the 2009 FIFA Under-17 football tournament unless the country’s private sector is ready to fund the hosting, at a cost of 37 billion naira (US$1=118 naira), Nigerian presidency sources have indicated.

Against the backdrop of an austerity budget being planned for 2009, President Umaru Yar’Adua is not positively disposed to shelling out the huge funds to host the age-group tournament, the sources said.

Though the President is said to be concerned that world soccer’s governing body, FIFA, could sanction Nigeria for backing away from its hosting commitment, he was not yet convinced of the benefits of spending such massive funds on the hosting.

The promoters of the event have not been able to convince President Yar’Adua that the hosting will benefit Nigeria, either in terms of enhancing the performance of the country’s team or in terms of the possible profit that can be made from the hosting.

Also at issue is the controversy surrounding the hosting of the All Africa Games in the capital city of Abuja in 2003, with the organisers yet to fully account for the expenditure on the games.

President Yar’Adua has therefore directed the ‘Presidential Committee on the 2009 budget’ to liaise with the Ministry of Sports to find out if the private sector could help host the event.

Following a debate on the hosting, a source in the committee said: ”It was clear from the debate that hosting FIFA Under-17 is not a priority and the President has made it clear he would not fund any project that is not a priority.”

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