Tuesday, June 6, 2023

2034 Vision: FIFA World Cup comes to West Africa

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I don come again o. I will never be deterred, nor will I be tired of repeating myself on this particular issue like a broken record.

2034 is 11 years away, but I already have a vision in my sights.

In that year, a historic event will hold in West Africa. The whole of Africa, plus 22 other countries of people of African descent, will have prepared the region for 11 years to host the most ambitious ‘pilgrimage’ in human history, a return of the Black person to his roots, through an event that will earn him a new place in an inevitable new World Order emerging from the on-going global realignment of civilisations, forces and interests.

Those who have eyes can already see.

To start with, the World Cup of football is NOT only about football. A closer look reveals an astonishing reality – the football played during the one-month long period of the four-yearly ‘feast’ is the least of the activities involved in hosting the event. If Africans did not realise this fact before, the Qatar 2022 festival revealed and demonstrated it.

For the eight years period that it took to prepare for the one-month long 64 matches played across eight venues, this small corner of the world was transformed into the centre of the Universe. Qatar 2022 was the story of how sport catalysed and fast-tracked the transformation and re-branding of a country into the world’s number one tourist destination, one of the world’s most visited cities in the past decade, and one of the fastest developing environments in the world across virtually all sectors, including sports.

In short, the Qatar 2022 was much more than just a football event. In the eight years it took from bidding to hosting, football was the least activity.

That’s the nature of hosting mega-events. They become catalysts for either genuine development, or, unfortunately also, for waste.

In hosting the World Cup in 2014, for example, Brazil built a new football stadium in Manaus in the heart of the Amazon called Arena da Amazonia.

The $300 million ultra-modern facility hosted only four matches. As soon the event ended, the stadium became a White Elephant, wasting in the dense vegetation of the Amazon, ‘as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean.’

That is another perspective, a view from the opposite end of proper planning and development. The motivation for taking up the responsibility to host the biggest single sporting event in the world must be beyond shallow sentiments, and must be hinged to very vigorous and meticulous study, particularly for areas of the world that cannot afford the wasteful venture such as was a part of Brazil 2014.

Qatar 2022 was the climax of a deliberate developmental plan designed to the make the country the tourism and economic ‘capital’ of the world.

So, in my vision, in 2034, six countries in the West African sub-region will become the epicentre of a West African World Cup. Between them they shall provide the 12 venues needed for the 80 matches that will take place over a one-month period amongst 48 countries from all corners of the earth.

Meanwhile, the entire 15 countries in ECOWAS will prepare the entire West Africa environment to accommodate the 48 participating national teams, fete their travelling fans and supporters, provide entertainment and hospitality for the flood of tourists, open up to the army of the world’s media, and develop an eco-system in the region that will impact the entire sub-region, and even the rest of the continent.

The region shall put up a unique and fantastic show, a cultural package that will include a return to the roots of human history, the story and relics of the Slave Trade (a reminder of the 22 million Africans that were shipped from slave camps that still lie as painful reminders along the West African coastline, of journeys from which they were no return. Blacks in the Diaspora are still living in that ‘Limbo’, torn between their new countries that would not fully embrace them, and their ‘roots’ that have forgotten, or disregards them.

Either way, the aim now is a reconnection that will lead to restoration, restitution, rehabilitation and even reparation for the Black race, through returning to their original roots, and from there, creating an enviable seat in a new World Order.

2034 shall become the year and opportunity for that renaissance, a revival of buried chapters in human history that must be unearthed for any healing of past wounds to take place.

For 10 years from 2024, and annually thereafter, the 78 Black and African countries that make up Black Civilisation in the world shall be a part of planning and organising an event such as the world has never seen, not in arrogance of any sophisticated physical developments alone, but in demonstration of the purity of the human spirit of friendship and collaboration, of love and peace.

In the 10 years preceding 2034, the spirit of FESTAC shall be re-awakened, bringing together all 78 Black and African countries in an annual socio-cultural and economic collaboration that will promote Black and African culture, consciousness and a new civilisation, creating new boundaries and new frontiers for the Black race in a return-to-Motherland agenda.

Nigeria shall take the lead in this enterprise for many obvious reasons: The country is the ‘unofficial’ capital of the Black Race on earth; the most influential country in the West African sub-region; the most populous Black nation on earth; the most powerful and, probably, one of the richest Black countries on earth in terms of the combination of natural and human resources; a rich history of championing some of the largest Black movements and struggles in the world including the 1976 boycott of the Olympic Games by 28 countries, FESTAC ’77, the fight for Independence and the liberation struggles in Africa!

The combination of a FESTAC and SPORTS shall start in 2024, run for 10 years and shall be a part of the ceremonies of the 2034 World Cup.

This combination shall produce a unique African World Cup at a period when multi-national and regional World Cup formats have become the norm.

Incidentally, Nigeria already has a blueprint document for bidding and hosting a regional World Cup. In 2002, shortly after the ‘failed’ Korea/Japan World Cup, Nigeria was the first country to swim against the tide of general condemnation of joint hosting.

She mooted the idea to host the world’s first regional world between five neighbouring West African countries in the sub-region. Nigeria made a great sacrifice by giving up its dream to host the 2010 World Cup and supported South Africa.

Without that support, South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 World Cup would never have happened.

That document still exists and shall provide a solid anchor for the 2034 project.

Meanwhile, beyond all the aforementioned, and on the balance of global participation, achievements and trophies won in football, Nigeria stands head and shoulder above any other Black and African country in the world in the ambition to host the next World Cup in Africa. Needless to count them.

The long-established vision that birthed ECOWAS by founding political fathers in the sub-region will find fruition in a collaborative joint, West African hosting.

The sub-region will witness the fastest development in its history propelled by meeting the requirements and deadlines imperative to hosting the World Cup – eight years of preparation to create a common boundary for the participating countries, a common currency, infrastructural development of roads, rail and waterways, liberal immigration protocol for the entire region, a single market, collaborative security, health, and hospitality programmes, youth engagement, jobs creation, proper social and cultural integration, and a cultivation of genuine friendship amongst the people of the countries and with the rest of the world.

The conversations about this vision have been on-going within the corridors of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, in Lagos, Nigeria.

On July 28, 2023, whilst the Airpeace Ambassadors are being decorated, the kite of 2034 will be flown. In 2023, we are entering into truly exciting times in the story of Nigeria.

Watch out!


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