How FG Is Stifling Football In Nigeria | Independent Newspapers Limited
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How FG Is Stifling Football In Nigeria

Posted: Jul 9, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chibuike Chukwu
Nigerian football is navigating a sharp curve that can take it to its lowest depth ever, Independent’s investigations have revealed.
Recent developments, especially concerning funding, have conspired to stifle the game Nigerians love so well.
Observers have noted with regrets that this is happening to sport which, around the globe, has become a money spinner.
The alarm on the precarious state of football in the country was raised two weeks ago by Amaju Pinnick, president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Pinnick disclosed that the Federal Government’s monthly subvention of N56.6 million to the football house was abysmally poor.
Previous administrations disbursed a minimum of N240m to the NFF, said Pinnick, thus putting the story in its naked perspectives.
In clear terms, the NFF is now getting less than half of its lowest subvention prior to the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Said he: “During the previous administrations, grant from government was between N120 million to N250 million every month…We are getting about $200,000, but the last time, they were getting over a million dollars every month.
“We are very hopeful that things will improve; we will rejig it. Personally, I do not want to depend on government for the funding because government has other challenges.”
Of course, it would be a tough task ahead to fund the football body with what it can attract from other sources.
Nigerian football authorities have battled in recent years to meet their financial obligations even when the monetary inflow was commendably high.
It would be recalled that in April, during a dinner and award recognition night to commemorate the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace, President Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, restated the federal government’s resolve to tap into the enormous resource and opportunities in sports and also make the sector financially viable.
The vice president identified the English Premier League (EPL) and the Major League Soccer (MLS) as major money spinners for their countries, and hinted that the present administration was keen on replicating same in Nigeria.
But football analysts have pointed out that the Vice President missed the point.
According to them, the government of the countries alluded to by Prof. Osinbajo support the leagues to stabilize and be the money-spinners they have become.
Sources indicate that England’s monthly subvention to the Football Association (FA), for example, is about £300,000.
The FA is one of the most sponsored in the global football community, with current annual turnover accruing from sponsorship, broadcasting and licensing, among others, standing at £332 million as at end of 2015.
Henry Nwosu, former footballer and Africa Cup of Nations winner, while speaking to Independent, was coy in blaming the federal government over the shortfall in the monthly subvention to the NFF.
While admitting that it was the duty of football administrators to source for funds to develop the game, he reasoned that this might be difficult to realise in the face of dwindling economic fortunes.
He said that it would amount to a disservice to the game if the federal government gave about $200,000 to the football house.
Regardless, a top official of the Ministry of Sport, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the Presidency was no longer willing to fund sport, not just football.
It was now left to sport administrators to source for funds wherever they could.
“Let me tell you, the current administration is not ready to foot any bill in sport, including football.
“That the FG gives $200,000 to NFF is a plus because football does not feature in Buhari’s agenda.
“The Federal Government says that they have a lot to deal with, especially with the dwindling revenue accruing from oil.
“In Europe, these games fund themselves, so why not different Federations do the same,” the official said.
Indeed, sporting federations depend on corporate sponsorship for their activities, while governments provide the enabling environment.
Analysts never fail to point out that in the lull year of football in China about a decade ago, the Chinese government provided tax holidays to corporate entities in the country to reduce their financial burden.
This is believed to have changed the face of the game in the country with huge sponsorship and top-rated players being signed on by football clubs.
Here in Nigeria, commentators argue that the federal government is turning its back on the game that has brought honour to the country.
A national coach who spoke on the issue said the situation could throw the game of football into fast deterioration, with all its likely effects.
Some observers have pointed to the fact that, up till now, Team Nigeria to the Rio Olympic Games is yet to get adequate preparation.
Ahead of Rio, several sporting federations in the country lament poor funding, and failure looms ahead for Nigeria.