FC IFEANYI UBAH OPENED THE SEASON ON A CONTROVERSIAL NOTE
Once again, Nigerian
football is at cross roads. The opening game of the Nigeria League Season that
was supposed to showcase the start of yet another progressive era, is about to
become a test case for the Nigeria Football Federation and the League Management
Company. But before the official drama begins, here are the things we know, and
– FC Ifeanyi Ubah clearly contravened Articles 13.24 or 13.26 (most likely they
will be charged under 13.26) when they refused to continue the game against
Kano Pillars. It is also a fact that FC
Ifeanyi Ubah is owned by the chairman of the Anambra State Football Association.
It is well known that the
chairman has the final say on everything that goes on within the club…maybe including
the decision to continue with a game or not.
And there is the story
circulating is that he it was that indeed sent the instructions that the team
should march off the pitch in Kano.
Another fact is that the
team has been at the centre of several controversies in few months it’s been in
existence, and some of the issues involved in those controversies have been
There are also unverified
stories around both the club and the owner, about the involvement of their
company in the payment of the salary of the Super Eagles coach. The story is a
story simply because the NFF refused to give full disclosure on where the salary
of the Super Eagles’ coach is from.
And the belief is that
this involvement with the NFF hands the team a privilege that is being abused.
The point is: the LMC has
made huge progress in boosting the profile of the League. The buy-in from the
media and fans is growing daily. But that buy-in is tenuous at best. And a
wrong handling of this latest imbroglio can cause an erosion in fan confidence
that will take years to repair.
That is why both the NFF
and the LMC have to be careful. So how should the NFF/LMC handle this?
is purely an LMC matter. The NFF must leave the LMC to deal with it,
and should not entertain any spurious appeal from FC Ifeanyi Ubah when the
hammer falls. Second,
the LMC must realise this is a litmus test for them on two fronts: on one hand,
Ifeanyi Ubah are merely testing the system. Every team in the League
know the rules, they (were ordered to walk out because they) wanted to test how
far they can push. This can be the tip of a bigger agenda. On the other hand, the
other teams are watching. The feeling around the League is that FC
Ifeanyi Ubah are favoured. Should the decision on this walk-out be perceived as 'soft', it
will lead to a breakdown of law and order.