The administration of football in Nigeria is horrible. This is not a new thing, it has been so for many years but sadly the current leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation has also embraced some of the bad trends of the previous regimes. One of such was the ripples over the federation’s sub committees that have been left redundant in the past two years.
The members named in various committees are expected to support in the administration of the game in the country. Sadly however, these people were only named but have not been doing anything rather, a few people have been running the affairs of the apex football body.
It is now clear why the NFF is easily overwhelmed when there are loaded events because the body is not delegating functions as expected. This also informs why responses of the federation on crucial issues are usually slow and decisions are not taken also as promptly as expected. For example, it was indeed a shame that the members of the federation’s technical committee confessed that the body did not hold any meeting from January 2018 till date. Chairman of the committee Ahmed Yusuf in an interview painted a picture of the body meeting to determine the national coaches for U-13, U-17, U-20, U-23 male and female teams.
Ordinarily the committee should screen the applicants but it is clear that few people will simply decide who gets the job. This is very bad because it means there is no system in place to run the game in Nigeria. It is no surprise that the decision on the league dragged for so long and when the NFF finally came out, the Points Per Game issue sparked another controversy which is still lingering as Rivers United are not happy Enyimba got the nod for one of the Champions League places while they will play Confederation Cup after both sides are tied on the table released. Going forward, the fixtures for the 2020/2021 English Premier League were released only last Thursday. This is a big statement on how the game should be administered.
The EPL came back to conclude the last season with about 10 match day fixtures and already, the body is set for the next calendar. On September 12, Liverpool after winning the league first time in 30 years, will begin their defence with a home game against newly-promoted Leeds United.
Top teams like Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal are already in transfer market trying to boost their teams in preparation for the new season. The closed door games will still continue but on October 1, fans will be readmitted into the stadia in the EPL.
These are amazing steps to go on with activities even with the current pandemic. We are told that the Nigeria Professional Football League is modelled after the EPL and we should see the sign in the administration of the league and football generally.
After the decision to tentatively restart in September/October, stakeholders advised that there should be a restart process which should begin with the testing of players and all those involved in the league. Till date, a template on how all the players and officials will embrace the COVID-19 protocols is yet to be on the ground. This is a big issue and normally those in the medical committee are supposed to advise on the gradual restart process but this is not happening.
The South African league bounced back three weeks ago even though the pandemic is more prevalent in that country. The Confederation of Africa and FIFA during the week released a new calendar for football restart. The Emergency Committee approved dates for the resumption of the qualifiers of the Africa Cup of Nations Cameroon 2021 and the group stages of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers-Qatar 2022. And so October 3rd to 13th were approved by FIFA as windows for friendly games while between November 9 and 17 the match days 3 and 4 of the Cameroon 2021 AFCON will take place with Nigeria taking on Sierra Leone in two back-to-back fixtures.
Clearly, the NFF is as usual slow in its response to situations and this could affect players in the domestic league. It will be a miracle if football starts in October since nothing is being done has yet. The chieftains of the federation are young men and one expects them to be more vibrant in their operation to enable the game to get better in the country.