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Funding snag hits plans by Nigeria to host FIFA tourney

22 October 2008 11:20

LAGOS (AFP) - Nigeria may be forced to pull out as hosts for next year's FIFA Under-17 Championship after the country's government said they cannot afford a budget of about 30 million US dollars to stage the competition.

Nigeria President Musa Yar'Adua told his cabinet last week that he is not convinced that hosting the tournament in November 2009 will help develop the country's sports.

Yar'Adua further argued that Nigeria faced more pressing needs than spending such a large sum of money to host a sporting event unless the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the tournament could get most of the money it needs from the private sector.

"It is clear that hosting the competition, as prestigious as it may appear, is not a priority of government and the president has made it clear he would not fund any project that is not a priority," a government official said.

Top Nigerian officials led by the country's sports Minister, Hassan Gimba, are already in Zurich, Switzerland, to discuss with FIFA on the hosting of the biennial tournament.

An official of the LOC, Tijani Ahmed Shuaibu, said the officials will be discussing funding of the competition with FIFA.

"Most international competitions run on money from private companies with the government only providing the infrastructure like stadiums. Nigeria's case should not be different," said Shuaibu.

Nigeria has already hosted a FIFA competition - the 1999 World Youth Championship won by Spain.

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