Ban: Dilemma of a soccer loving Nation

By Ikenna Okonkwo on 20/08/2018

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FIFA President, Gianni Infantino

For the past few years and regrettably, still in the present times, power-drunk Administrators laying claims to the country’s football body, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) haven’t ceased to plunge soccer-loving Nigerians (including footballers, Coaches, Staff, Referees, fans among others) into calamitous moments.

The latest trend hovering around Nigeria’s sports climate is a threat by world football governing body, FIFA to slam ban on Nigeria, Africa’s most populous Nation over what it allegedly fingered as both government interference which has prevented Amaju Pinnick faction from taking charge of Nigeria football structure. Unfortunately, the ban threat is engineered by Nigerians themselves.

Most football Stakeholders and even other non-core football followers get worried by the day. However, some of those directly involved care less of the plight of ‘real’ soccer lovers.

These Administrators who don’t really have any single investment (which has direct impact on People’s lives) in sports especially football are mostly keen to make governance of Nigeria’s football a do or die affair.

Think of it; what will it profit a man or some men to lay tight hold on Nigeria football system and continuously march down on moves that are not geared towards bringing holistic or long-lasting measures to the existing conundrum? From one year to another, Nigeria’s football and other sports have suffered epilepsy with no cure in sight. Former Director General of defunct National Sports Commission, Al Hassan Yakmut made it clear during a sports summit (earlier this week) conveyed by House of Representatives Committee on Sports that the problem of Nigerian Sports is purely man-made. If not, why will a country with abundant (free) human resources/potentials be dumped on the altar of few self-seeking individuals?

Like its obtainable in the day to day governance of the country’s political architecture, Nigeria’s football leadership over the years has no meaningful development idea for the sport. Mainly, the job that an average board member of NFF is interested in is how to enrich his or her pocket through any means available.

The current problem facing the Nation’s football has virtually crippled the life wire of its operations. In fact, it has taken the soccer system many years backward gradually before eventual and present manifestation.

In Glasshouse, headquarters of NFF, football administrative has been turned to banana peel, nay banana style leadership. Refer NFF as banana republic and you won’t be wrong after all. No meaningful development has been carried out on Nigeria’s football in recent times (in the past four years). Yet, the usual anthem has been that sponsorship drive has fetched lots of fund to the federation. I’m still searching for visible and feasible programmes or projects that numerous sponsorship gains have on the Players, Referees, Coaches, administrative development of Nigeria’s football.

Instead, selfish and treacherous interest abound. It is this interest that kept every stratum of the league (Nigeria Professional Football League, Nigeria National League and Nigeria Nation-wide League) on hold even before 2018 World Cup began. Players and coaches now roam the street, doing nothing. Those that their clubs can still cope, manage to go for training amidst non-payment of any outstanding and subsisting allowance. At worst, I expected the apex league, NPFL to remain afloat considering huge amount its managers brandish among themselves and club chairmen. These monies were firstly meant to serve the interest of real actors – footballers and coaches, not ‘non-satisfying’ club administrators who ride best of cars and live flamboyantly at the expense of the actual development of the game.

Is NPFL not suppose to be independent in line with the claims as from the time it was created from the then Nigeria Premier League as a private entity, registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission? Why must the supposed autonomous league remain shut down just because of ongoing fight within the country’s football body?

If it is true that the interest of football in Nigeria is paramount to the league organisers, the league that has fallen out of the pecking order in Africa should have been on. Surprisingly, this same league that has received so much media hype in the past three years or thereabout was for the first time in a long time declared to belong among rookies in the continent.

I had recalled with deep regret how Nigeria with four uninterrupted slots in both CAF Champions league and Confederation Cup lost out in latest scheduling for continental competitions, some two months ago. In case you are unaware yet, only two Nigerian clubs will be eligible to participate during any CAF organised club competition during 2018/19 season. The verdict from CAF that Nigeria is out 12 most rated Nation in club football structure, even came to the fore long before the current impasse in the country’s football resurfaced last month. Another step backward!

Who would have imagined that the most populous African Nation will be out of Nation’s Cup consecutively in a space of three years, a tournament it won in 2013? Who could have imagined that virtually all age-grade teams –under 15, 17 and 20 (Men and Women) are begging for survival with no official team jerseys during trainings despite much hyped kitting deal with NIKE Company? Again, for the first time in many years ago, both under 17 and 20 failed to qualify for continental and global showpiece. Nigeria’s under 20 Women team (Falconets) have just been edged out of the ongoing FIFA women championship otherwise known as World Cup in France. Before now, grassroots football development received prompt and promising attention but it was turned into no-meaningful venture over the past three years, one of the reason Falconets, who use to be world beaters became fragile against any team they faced in France before their expected ouster.

Away from all these gory on-the-pitch happenings, the FIFA ban that got everyone talking in the past few days met stiffed opposition some hours ago with non-refusal of FIFA top officials who purportedly refused to grant Nigerian government request for a meeting at its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. The meeting request put forward by the country’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung earlier this week received immediate refusal from FIFA according to reports on the media. Upon receiving this unpalatable news, I couldn’t understand why a body that has issued a stem warning on a sovereign Nation has blatantly turned down an appeal for discussion which could lead to possible resolution of existing crisis, plaguing one of its member federations.

Is there any other intention which Nigerians are yet to realise in all of these? Is FIFA only interested in hitting Nigeria with suspension as from Monday without opening window of any effort at achieving truce bearing in mind that the elections that ushered in both Amaju Pinnick and Chris Giwa were flawed? Only time will tell.



Source Whirlwindnews

Posted on August, 20 2018

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