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Random Thoughts On Football Associations!  –Odegbami

Random Thoughts On Football Associations!  –Odegbami

There are several things on my mind drawn from my piece last week.

Reluctantly, but very importantly, I return to the issue of State Sports Associations and their place in the structure of Nigerian sports administration. I use the State football associations only as a reference. What concerns them is replicated in every other sports association.

The States football associations presently wield enormous powers that they are not entitled to. They presently occupy a place in national football administration that they should not in the correct architecture of football administration.

They are an administrative body comprising all the members of the football family in their States. They organise programmes for their members within their States. They are not apart from the members that make them up in their States.

The leadership of their members in their States make up the National Football Federation. The State Football Association is not, therefore, a body different and separate from the Clubs, Referees, Coaches, leagues, etc that constitute them. The Chairman of the State football association is drawn from one of the members. These members constitute the National Federation.

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The work and place of State football associations are limited to their States.

They organise and supervise their members – Referees, coaches, schools sports, various leagues, etc. There is not a separate entity called the State Football Association. It has no business as a State football association to be an individual member of the National Federation when its members are already members of the national federation. It is duplicity, pure and simple.

Allocating to state football associations a seat on the membership of national federation can only be justified by the politics involved in electing the Chairman/President, and accepting the consequences. Once again, a critical look, reveals that State FAs are the same people as the Club owners, the leagues, the referees, the coaches, and so on, that constitute the National Federation, in a new and disguised garb.

That’s why, even when politics were injected into the system at a time, and a relevance was created for the body of State football association Chairmen, only one seat was allocated to the ‘Chairman of State FA Chairmen’. Now, there are 37 seats! How? Wherefrom?

It is a multiplication when the State associations are regarded as individual members.

I concede that all of this requires careful examination for better understanding of the structures and where the error was made to individuate State Associations.

It is important that the Minister of Sports sets up a special Independent study group to look at the State Sports Associations and their true place in Nigerian sports and right the wrongs that have plagued sports development for almost 2 decades.

The Players Union

Harrison Jalla, the unrelenting fighter of the players’ cause, has kept the issue of players on the front burner for a long time. He has been in courts too many times to count. Many see him as a nuisance, yet his fight needs resolution. He insists that the Players Union deserves a place on the board as a member.

In truth, the players can become members only if their Union gets registered as a body of the National Federation with some responsibility for players in the football family of members. It is esoteric to just say that because football is all about the players, and the game cannot go on without them, the players, even without a recognised Union, must be automatic members.

Also Read: The Role Of The Sports Ministry In Nigerian Sports –Odegbami

Without having a union in the past, the government through the ministry of sports, picked a retired player from amongst them to represent their interest on the board. Without a Union to report to, the member was doing everything on his own and for his own purpose.

When a single body emerges representing the players, no one can stop their membership of the national federation. Once the Union is registered by the Federation as a member, its State chapters are empowered and start to impact football.

The problem with the players is that there are more than one faction of their association that are registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC.

The most renowned players whose reputation and influence could have made a difference to the struggle, and that should be in the forefront of driving recognition and the significance of their association, stay away from the politics that will empower their Union. Operating as individuals, the players have become pawns in the field of administration to be manipulated, used and dumped by various interest groups during election period.

Until they present a unified front with one recognised and functional body, the players association(s) will continue to drift and wallow in the shallow waters and side lines of Nigerian football administration, without a seat on the board that they deserve and that will help the cause of all players on the national board.

Stakeholders that are not Members! 

There are other participants in the administration of football that are not primary members of the federation. Their presence is acceptable. They even attend the General Assembly of the federation as interested parties but should have no votes during the election into the board. They are interest groups playing secondary roles in promoting the game without being actual members. They are drafted into the sub-committees to perform these roles without being in the board that is exclusive to primary members. These stakeholders include sport writers as a body, sports marketers as a body, supporters club, football agents as a body, football academies, and so on.

Only primary members should be in the football federation and should be elected by equal representation of the members. Period!

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Some two years ago, the former President of Nigeria advised the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation that the constitution of the NFA should be reviewed to accommodate more members. His useful advice was disregarded by the board as soon as the President left office. That’s precisely why the Minister of Sports must resurrect the matter again, look at it deeply, and take a decision in the best interest of the country and without infringing on the non-interference clause in the constitution of the national federation.

The Spanish Football example!

It has been in the news these past two weeks that the Spanish Sports Council (the equivalent of Nigeria’s Sports ministry) has suspended the Spanish Football Federation board. The world has not ended. Spain has neither been threatened or banned. Indeed, there has not been a whimper from UEFA or FIFA.

With the mountain of corruption discovered within Spanish football, and the power of Spanish football in the world, it is understandable that both UEFA and FIFA have been extremely careful in reacting to the ‘illegal’ act by an external third party suspending a national federation. Their dilemma is how to justify non-interference where a country’s laws are been flouted and corruption is ruining the game as a whole.

So, should the government watch and do nothing because FIFA has rules that offer impunity and immunity to ‘criminals’?

The whole world, particularly African governments are watching developments in Spain to see if FIFA will ban Spain. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander!


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