NIGERIA is not on top of anyone's list of places to visit and it is highly unlikely that the country's tourist industry does much to reduce the national debt. In the wake of the hanging of nine human rights activists, the country's likely expulsion from the Commonwealth and a plane crash which revealed half the nation's aircraft would fail safety checks, the president of FIFA said he would switch the next youth championships from Malaysia to that benighted African country. If he is not suffering from senile dementia, then the unbridled arrogance of Joao Havelange is so staggering that his 21-year reign as supremo of the world football organisation could end with the body split asunder. Havelange's apparent pledge to the Nigerians provoked criticism of its president at the FIFA meeting in Prague last week. In fact, it should have brought a censure motion and, if the articles of the body permit it, a vote of no confidence and his removal from office. Nigeria is a cesspool of violence, corruption and danger to overseas visitors - not that there are too many bothering the immigration officials at Lagos airport. How anyone in their right mind - and he's not just anyone, he's the boss - could suggest afresh sending teams of young players to the country, is beyond any logical comprehension. Inadequate facilities are a mere irritant when compared with the real threat to life and limb. Due to the politics that Havelange plays, it was not until the last minute that this year's youth tournament was finally taken away from Nigeria. Nigeria will not get the next youth championships, but the actions of Havelange merely underline his unfitness for the presidency of the sport's controlling body. He is due to remain in control for another two years and may even then attempt to stand for another term. In the interim, he is likely to drive a bigger wedge between his cohorts and those in Europe. The possibility of a split in FIFA should not be ignored. The Europeans are fed up with Havelange and they possess considerably more clout now than they did a few years ago. Havelange's assiduous wooing of Africa and Asia propelled him to power and has kept him there, but his autocratic actions and, lately, inane pronouncements have placed him at loggerheads with the Europeans. And where does the real strength in FIFA lie? Not long after the Nigerian nonsense, the final battles for qualification for next summer's European Championships took place across the length and breadth of the Continent. And what a tournament that should be. UEFA decided to increase the number of teams to 16 and lengthen the tournament by a week so that it will run from June 11 to June 30 next year. Remind you of anything? What about the World Cup pre-1982 when the 16 best teams in the world battled for supremacy before it became a month-long affair where quantity played as big a part as quality. It will be worse next time with 32 teams lining up in France in 1998. The world's best footballing nations - barring only world champions Brazil - will line up in Britain next summer. There are going to be some tantalising games between evenly matched sides where the football should be of the highest calibre. Over the three-week period, the football played is certain to be of a superior quality to that in France in the next World Cup. It has to be because there are no also-rans and pretenders in the 16-team lineup. The brutal truth is that outside Europe, the rest of the football world can produce one country: Brazil. Having said that, however, they are a magnificent footballing nation and it is inconceivable to think of a world tournament without them. Reverse the coin, however, and ask what a FIFA World Cup would be like without the Europeans. It is highly unlikely to happen because it is in nobody's interest to see FIFA torn apart, but Havelange is certainly not helping the cause of world football with his actions - and his hell-bent intent on antagonising Europe.