Kalu Drops Bid for FIFA Presidency On Grounds of Nigeria's Economic Challenges

Former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has dropped his ambition to bid for the vacant FIFA presidency.

Kalu  threw in the towel  on the deadline date of submitting his bid monday.

He commended football stakeholders across the world who wanted him to contest for the plum job even as he did not submit a formal bid.

Kalu, while acknowledging the support of President Muhammadu Buhari and other African presidents for their patriotic roles noted that sports is a unifying force among Africans.

In a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Kunle Oyewumi, on Monday, Kalu said, "I feel humbled and honoured with the widespread call for me to vie for the position of FIFA president. “I sincerely appreciate the show of love and support demonstrated by African countries for their   endorsements despite my decision not to submit a bid.

“I particularly remain grateful to FIFA President, Sepp Blatter and his team, for personally acknowledging my capability to take the world football body to enviable heights.

“However, considering the economic challenges facing Nigeria, I have decided to focus my attention and resources on my business and humanitarian activities. I strongly believe the FIFA presidency is all about service, but I would rather continue my contributions to the economy of the continent by creating employment opportunities and wealth for Africans.

Kalu further observed that as a football enthusiast, “I remain committed and passionate to the advancement of sports especially in Africa.”

He applauded the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) for encouraging Nigerians to vie for the FIFA presidency, adding that Nigeria had showcased her human assets to the world.

Meanwhile, Michel Platini has had a first procedural appeal against a 90-day ban from all football activities rejected, representatives of the UEFA president revealed yesterday.

"This decision is not that of the (FIFA) appeals committee, for which no date has yet been communicated to Platini," the Frenchman's counsel said in a statement sent to AFP.

His lawyers added that they are "convinced the appeals will eventually show his complete integrity and restore all his rights."

UEFA General Secretary, Gianni Infantino, was the surprise entrant to the race for FIFA president monday same as Asian soccer chief, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain who also declared he had also put himself forward.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said in a statement it had offered overwhelming support to Sheikh Salman who had assured it "that his campaign will be entirely self-financed".

The Bahraini, closely allied to Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, one of the most powerful men in the Olympic movement, canvassed opinion from Asian associations last week.

On Saturday, South Africa's Tokyo Sexwale, a former apartheid-era political prisoner turned businessman, announced he would stand. A spokesman confirmed Sexwale had the necessary five nominations.

Former Trinidad and Tobago midfielder, David Nakhid, has also submitted his papers to FIFA, along with former FIFA Deputy General Secretary, Jerome Champagne, and Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein.

Liberia's Musa Bility has said he wants to run. His chances suffered a setback when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) refused to back him monday the BBC reported that he had the five nominations necessary to stand.

Former Brazil international Zico has been campaigning but has admitted he is struggling to get the backing of five FAs.

Another candidate, South Korea's Chung Mong-Joon, pulled out of the race yesterday. A scion of South Korea's Hyundai industrial conglomerate, Chung was banned from the sport for six years by FIFA, after an investigation into the decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

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