Football Has Become A Beggar Sport – Onigbinde | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Football Has Become A Beggar Sport – Onigbinde

Posted: Jan 2, 2016 at 10:33 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

FIFA and CAF instructor, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, believes Nigeria Football Federation should not be lamenting about cash crunch with good accountability and proper brand packaging. He speaks with PRINCE OBIAKU on other issues confronting Nigerian football.

The NFF has been struggling to meet its financial obligations to the national teams, players and coaches. Is it compulsory for Nigeria to attend all tournaments considering the financial implications?

Well let’s take it one after the other. I know there is a clause in FIFA statutes which says that as a member you are supposed to take part in FIFA competitions.

And if for a period of time you don’t take part, then you are out of the body. But that is not saying it all; it depends on your convenience which is one way of looking at it. I have a very strong feeling that we are not running football the way it should be run in this country.

I feel sad that football has been made U-23 star, Junior Ajayi U-23 striker, Etebo Oghenekaroa beggar sport in Nigeria. I believe football can pay its way without depending on anybody and that is why I keep saying that FIFA is being tolerant with us.

I think article 13 or 17 of FIFA statutes says that a football body must be capable of handling its affairs entirely without interference from a third party. The government is a third party, so if you’re taking money from the government it means you cannot take care of yourself and therefore, you don’t qualify to be a member of FIFA.

So let’s talk about the second analysis …

Yes, that is where I’m going now. Now, let us leave that to one side and talk in plain English. What is a club? A club is a group of people coming together to form an association on common interest,who will appoint chairman, treasurer? That is why I keep saying; in this country we don’t have a single football club by FIFA regulations.

There is no club that satisfies the condition of not being financed by the government. People may not understand why I say we don’t have a single football club in Nigeria. People may say no football club can survive without support from the government but I say an emphatic no!

But you were on several occasions at the helms of affairs at Shooting Stars Football Club of Ibadan and you depended on government for survival too?

That was not true; let me give you the real story. Some years back, I was approached by the then Governor of Oyo State, late Lam Adesina and it took him about five months to convince me to come back to Shooting Stars because I was already in and out six times, and I didn’t want to go back a seventh time. I agreed on the condition that he would allow me run the club the way it should be run. He gave me the confidence that I would do that in my own way. When I went in, the club had already relegated for about four years.

The first thing I thought of was how to make the club independent. I requested for a budget of N80 million but it was slashed to N40 million.

At some point, I started spending my money believing that after establishing what I wanted, I would get my money back. I assumed that I could be able to get about a million people calling themselves supporters of Shooting Stars with half a million people coming from Ibadan with the rest from all over the world.

But none of these people had any document to show they were supporters but rather whenever the club had a football match, it was the club that would give them transports fare and money for food and some other allowances.

So who was supporting who? So I decided I would make each of these supporters an owner of the club by encouraging each of them to pay 1000 for membership card. I graduated the membership to Platinum membership – N10,000, Gold membership – N5000, Silver membership – N2500, Bronze membership – N1000.

What would that amount to?

The effect was going to be this, if each of them paid 1000, and we multiply that amout by N1million, that gives us N1billion. Now this N1billion won’t be put in the bank, rather it would be invested. If I choose to invest it in producing table water with Shooting Stars as the label and have it as the major selling table water in Ibadan and if a profit of one naira is made on it you can imagine how much the club will have at the end.

By now Shooting Stars would have gotten its own stadium and hotel for camping and gradually develop it into a 5-star hotel. So if every club could do that, then why would they need to look up to the government for money?

Why run to the so called state governments that cannot pay their workers and civil servants? Is it not shameful that Taraba United players had to block the Taraba State Government House to demand for their over one-year unpaid salaries?

That wouldn’t happen if the club is on its own. And the government funding clubs gives way to interference, when are we going to get out of that? So if these clubs are independent all these talk about standards and interference would be a thing of the past. Funds coming from government lead to the problem of administrative and technical interference.

We have a lot of sponsors supporting the NFF but they still complain of lack of money…

I don’t want to talk about the finances of NFF Because I’m not an insider but if you go into FIFA records, It doesn’t talk about sponsors, it talks about partners. If you’re producing a product and my team wears your logo, are we not working for you?

So whatever you give us is not sponsorship nor is it a gift but you are paying for our services. I remember with Shooting Stars, I had a partnership agreement with Gulder and I was receiving N10 million per annum from them and I had Gulder advert on my jerseys. In fact, they also produced the jerseys for us which reduced the cost. Every Nigerian knows it is easy to spend government money. That is the main problem with the financial crisis in NFF.

People will cry for one week and forget about it. In the next one month they will recycle the same person who misapplied money into another position. That is why people objected to my plan to privatize Shooting Stars because they know the money will become corporate money so it would not be easy to take it away and get away freely.

That was why people objected to it and up till today that club is still in trouble. So if the NFF can look for partners, for instance I’ve been talking about developmental programmes for about 50 years now. I can remember the first book I wrote on how to develop Nigerian football was written in 1965, and till today all the issues I raised are still valid. So if the NFF want to develop football they should come up with a developmental programme.

The programmes if well packaged can be sold to its partners who in turn will sponsor it. If the NFF has a programme to train coaches all over this country we can get a company to customise the jerseys, track suits and the bus that will convey them throughout the training.

I’m sure many companies will be interested because their logos will be seen all over the country. They should prepare this package and sell it to many partners and they will still have extra money because you can’t have their logos on your materials for free.

How best do you think the NFF can prepare the U – 2 3 team having qualified for the Rio Olympics football?

That is the job of a Technical Adviser to the coach and the NFF. I have written series of papers on how to organise a technical division where you have different departments controlled be the technical director.

There will be a department in charge of the national teams with a director. All the chief coaches should report to him and then passes the reports on to the Technical Controller who passes same to the technical committee and finally to the NFF board.

That’s how it should be. There will be another department for development, running courses, organising courses and sending people out on courses and seminars. Also, another department is specialised in analysing the performance of our national teams.

We are not analysing our competitions, we organise competitions just for the sake of competitions which is wrong. Competitions are supposed to be like examinations in schools. A teacher organises competitions to evaluate how much the students have learnt.

So when we organise competitions, it supposed to be to know how much we have developed.