BY VICTOR OSOWOCHI, ABUJA – Nigerian football suffered yet another big blow as the country unceremoniously lost its bid to host next year’s Under-20 female World Cup tournament.
The rejection effectively shuts the doors against Nigeria’s wish to become the first African nation to win the hosting rights for a global women’s championship organised by FIFA.
In Nigeria’s stead, the world football governing body announced its choice of Costa Rica and Panama as joint hosts for next year’s Under-20 World Cup.
According to FIFA, the decision to settle for the first ever jointly hosted tournament in Costa Rica and Panama was taken following an inspection visit to both CONCACAF countries and further engagements both member associations.
The announcement of the hosting rights came from Fifa’s Chief Tournaments and Events Officer, Colin Smith, who said; “We would like to thank the Costa Rican and Panamanian football associations for their commitment towards women’s football and the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in particular. We are looking forward to a fantastic competition in August.”
“After the highly successful FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this year, it is important that we build on the momentum at all levels of the game”, he added
Also speaking on the choice of both countries to host the championship. FIFA’s Chief Women’s Football Officer, Sarai Bareman, said the “U20 WWC in Costa Rica and Panama next year is a perfect opportunity for us to continue driving the popularity of the game and with it being the first jointly hosted tournament – we can make the impact even greater,” .
Costa Rica is a Central American nation while Panama is country on the isthmus linking Central and South America
No doubt, the latest development has further dealt a telling blow on the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), whose President, Amaju Pinnick, initially described the bid as a great opportunity to “impact on humanity and win it on home ground.”
Amidst scathing criticism from some football pundits and a section of Nigeria’s socio-political commentators, a FIFA Inspection team that visited proposed facilities in the country last year has given indications of a positive outcome on the I’d by Nigeria.
However, despite these criticisms, the project, packaged by the received strong backing from the Nigerian government with Lagos, Benin City in Edo State; Asaba in Delta State; and Uyo in Akwa Ibom State already penciled down to stage the matches. – With agency reports