The statement will sound controversial to some, irresponsible to others and some will read be bewildered: “Let football die?!” But that is what the Federal government and the people of Nigeria MUST do, if we want our sports, not just football, to have a future. The crisis the sports sector is experiencing now will not go away, until our football ‘dies’…
There is no future for sports in Nigeria. It may sound stone-cold brutal, but anyone that has even a minute knowledge of how sports is run in other parts of the world, and compares it to how it is run in Nigeria, will know that it is true: there is absolutely no future for our sports the way it is run now. The Nigeria Football Federation is the richest of all the sports Federations in Nigeria because football attracts patronage, both from individuals, private sector, the government, and international bodies.
Part of the government patronage football enjoys is in the form of a monthly payment to the Nigeria Football Federation, which has led to unbridled profligacy: the NFF now runs an unrealistic budget, and the belief is that football will die without government funding. The proof of the statement can be seen in the current crisis. The government has issued another bailout, just months after the Atlanta fiasco, and the current state of things will not change as long as the NFF keep getting bailouts and monthly subventions.
The Nigerian economy as it is cannot continue to cater to the whims of the few in the NFF, and their cohorts in government who benefit from the current chaos. And the reality of a depressed economy should champion the need of an overhaul.
Government withdrawal of funding (and subsequent ‘death’) will force a much needed re-organization: the barely literates and smooth talkers in the NFF will be forced out; proper auditing of the books will become the norm.
When these happen, a trimmer and more efficient NFF will reduce the number of our national teams (we really do not need to participate in every tournament), and renegotiate bonuses (Nigerian teams earn more in bonuses and camp allowances than the English and American national teams, and those are FAR richer!)
Other sports have ‘died’, some Tennis have been reborn, and others like Boxing are gradually finding their way back, all through private funding. Therefore when football dies, the popularity will ensure a quick recovery, and the attendant better organization, which will spread to other sports.