Gold-hearted Kanu as­sist­ing African vic­tims

African Independent - - SPORT -

the NFF board, led by Pin­nick, and claimant to the same post, Giwa, to await fur­ther di­rec­tives on when judg­ment would be de­liv­ered on the lead­er­ship tus­sle in­sti­tuted by the Jos-based Giwa.

But while NFF board mem­bers are baf­fled as to how the mat­ter came be­fore the courts while they were not even aware of the de­vel­op­ments, the sit­u­a­tion in neigh­bour­ing Sierra Leone has reached a point of no re­turn with a ban from Fifa im­mi­nent.

The cri­sis in Free­town deep­ened af­ter the an­nual congress of the coun­try’s foot­ball gov­ern­ing body led by Isha Jo­hansen sched­uled for to­day to pave the way for elec­tions next month - was sus­pended by Fifa.

The term of of­fice of the cur­rent Sierra Leone Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (SLFA) comes to an end on Au­gust 3. Fifa say the congress is post­poned in­def­i­nitely un­til a task force can be sent to Free­town to sort out is­sues at the SLFA re­lat­ing to in­tegrity checks.

“The im­ple­men­ta­tion of in­tegrity checks to cur­rent, and po­ten­tial SLFA ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers have not been car­ried out. Ju­di­cial Cam­bi­asso, he had at­tended the Fifa Un­der-17 World Cup draw, Kanu said Africans need to come to­gether to ad­dress this huge prob­lem af­flict­ing African play­ers across the con­ti­nent.

Kanu, who bat­tled a heart prob­lem dur­ing his own glit­ter­ing ca­reer, said the re­cent death of an­other Ivo­rian, Che­ick Tiote, was sup­posed to have been a “wakeup call to all Africans to act over the prob­lem, but ev­i­dently we are dis­play­ing a pas­sive at­ti­tude to­wards this grow­ing prob­lem”.

Tiote, 30, col­lapsed dur­ing bodies and ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cials reg­is­tered un­der the SLFA must also un­dergo an in­tegrity scru­tiny,” read a state­ment from Fifa.

SLFA spokesman Ibrahim Ka­mara said they are bound to com­ply with the Fifa di­rec­tives. How­ever, Min­is­ter of Sport Ahmed Khanou was not amused and launched a scathing at­tack on the SLFA as well as Fifa.

“I’m shocked, dev­as­tated and dis­ap­pointed at Fifa as I was sup­posed to have been the first port of call as moral guar­an­tor,” Khanou said. “I’m sur­prised be­cause as moral guar­an­tor I didn’t send any com­plaint to Fifa and nei­ther am I aware of any com­plaint by the SLFA.

“Sierra Leone is a sov­er­eign state and should not be held to ran­som. The congress must go on as planned. I’ve re­quested the SLFA to send me a copy of the Fifa let­ter since I was not copied in, and I’ll take it to my boss State Pres­i­dent Ernest Koroma and gov­ern­ment will then come out with a po­si­tion.”

The leader of the ag­grieved mem­bers of the SLFA, Idrissa Tarawally, says Fifa do not have the right to stop the congress. a train­ing ses­sion for his then Chi­nese club Bei­jing En­ter­prises and was cer­ti­fied dead shortly after­wards.

“I’m talk­ing to friends so we can do some­thing to cre­ate aware­ness to try to help chil­dren in Africa,” Kanu said.

“Tiote’s death was not good news. It’s not the first time it is hap­pen­ing. We lost Marc-Vivien Foe. He died and noth­ing was done. Tiote is gone and noth­ing is be­ing done. How many more must die be­fore we wake up as Africans and start do­ing some­thing?”

Kanu was side­lined for nine months just af­ter win­ning Olympic gold in 1996 when doc­tors at his Ital­ian club In­ter Mi­lan’s found a heart de­fect. He was al­lowed to re­sume his ca­reer af­ter a suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tion in Ohio in the US.

The 40-year-old, who also played for Ajax Am­s­ter­dam and Portsmouth, is plan­ning to build a $17 mil­lion car­diac hos­pi­tal in Abuja, Nige­ria. He also wants to build sim­i­lar hos­pi­tals in east, north and south­ern Africa.

Af­ter sur­viv­ing the dis­ease fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tion, he es­tab­lished the Kanu Heart Foun­da­tion in Nige­ria and the fa­cil­ity has over­seen 538 suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tions in Eng­land, In­dia, Nige­ria and Is­rael.

“Our dream is to build a hos­pi­tal in Nige­ria and four oth­ers in Africa. Funds have been the is­sue but if we can make it hap­pen, it’s go­ing to help a lot as right now we are tak­ing the kids to In­dia and it costs a lot.”

To raise funds for the project Kanu is bring­ing to­gether for­mer team­mates for char­ity matches in La­gos and Johannesburg later this year.

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