HOME WIN SYNDROME: A Home Advantage or Disadvantage for Football in Nigeria??

Heartland Fans Protest Enyimba Home win

 Someone got idea why Nigeria football league is mired in a swamp of problems? Why such large and vibrant market of over 50 million football consumers in the country aren’t just interested in the local league? The answer is simple – poor packaging! It isn’t difficult to decipher if you consider all the controversies surrounding the management and administration of the league.

It isn’t about the invention of Satellite (Cable TV) that makes it easier for Nigeria fans to watch English premier League (EPL). It’s about corrupt practices that has doused the excitement derived from the local league in the past. What we might now call ‘the good old days’ when Nigeria stadiums are filled to capacity several hours before a league match. Then, you could see the progression of teams and the character of true league champions.

Unfortunately today, Nigerian team managers invest in the wrong things. It’s an irony really, instead of teams to invest on players and coaches, they rather spend so much funds on mundane activities.

There’s the ‘home win syndrome’ – most clubs win their home games at all cost. It isn’t about home advantage, where teams enjoy more home support and players are more conversant with the vagaries of the home pitch. It’s about mundane practices in Nigerian league.

Match Fixing: Team managers connive with match officials (referees) to fix most of their home games. The implication is general poor match officiating in the league.

Referee beaten at Kwara stadium

Stadium Hooliganism: Home teams employ the services of hooligans to harass visiting teams, threaten match officials and in some cases maim referees just to force them to compromise the match. The implication is general insecurity in Nigeria league stadiums.

Fetish Practice: Some Nigerian teams go diabolical to win at all cost. They employ the services of Juju Priests, ‘Prophets’ and you often see things like masquerade harassment, pot of fire, dead pigs and other ritual sacrifices with offensive smells that create a general unhealthy atmosphere in Nigeria league stadiums.

Board Room Points: clubs engage in boardroom politics, where they connive with the league board to gain vital points. The league board encourage this practice by unnecessary postponement of cases filed by clubs and poor match re-scheduling. The implication is such boardroom points given to teams at crucial period of the league frustrate fans and douse excitements.

Players Slavery: I cannot conclude this post without  mentioning the problem of transfer market operations in Nigerian league.

Most clubs in Nigeria does not keep their contractual obligations to their players.  Players are not paid their sign on and salaries as at when due. In some cases, they are not paid at all and yet the club wouldn’t  let hem go on free transfer to other clubs. The  implication is most players in Nigeria league are so frustrated that they cannot give their best in such conditions. So there is a mass exodus of players moving abroad.

I don’t think most Nigerian football administrators have the league at heart. They’re all fighting to enrich their own pockets; destroying the very sport they were meant to nurture and protect.

May be, the league administrators don’t understand the kind of advantage we have in this country. We can all earn more money if we package the league well. This is because we have a large deposit of talented football players and coaches. Most importantly, we have such a large active football fans that can attract merger sponsorships to the league. Nigeria local league can be very competitive and ranked among the best in the world.

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