Benson Chukwueke Benson Chukwueke Author
Title: WHY FOOTBALL IN NIGERIA CANNOT THRIVE ON GOVERNMENT FUNDING: The Case of Aminu Maigari Vs Federal Government
Author: Benson Chukwueke
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Recently, I saw a Sports newspaper headline that read: “FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CHALLENGE NFF: Source Your Own Fund to Avoid Interferen...




Recently, I saw a Sports newspaper headline that read: “FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CHALLENGE NFF: Source Your Own Fund to Avoid Interference.” – That headline may sound sarcastic, but I sincerely believe that’s the way to go.

It is no use running in vicious circle. The world football governing body, FIFA, has threatened to ban Nigeria in several occasions as it did recently when the Federal Government moved to sack Aminu Maigari, President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

FIFA is strongly against a country’s government interference on football matters. The point is, it’s not possible for government of Nigeria not to interfere in the sport it funds. He who pays the piper dictates the tune.



It’s unfortunate really that NFF is structured this way. If government of the day isn’t interested in football and decides to cut down budget, then NFF will begin to struggle and may not be able to effectively carry out most of its programs.


It’s the same when it comes to the running of football clubs in Nigeria. Most of the professional clubs are owned and funded by their state government. Therefore, if the governor in authority loves football, then the state club will begin to do well in the league as it enjoys better funding - Vice versa.



For instance, during Orji-Uzor Kalu’s regime as governor of Abia state between 1999 –2005, Eynimba , the state owned football club, won many silver wares – NPL, FA, CAF Champions League  trophies several times. But since he left office the club has struggled to meet the status quante.

Government funding is indeed the reason there’s so much inconsistency in the growth and development of football in Nigeria. We’ve seen our football administrators take one step forward and several steps backward. Football is largely politicized in this country.

It’s simple to understand. No football Association or professional club can maintain a consistent growth with government funding. As long as government changes hands, so the funding will continue to fluctuate.

We must understand this; NFF isn’t ministry of sports and shouldn’t be structured to operate like a not-for-profit organization.  The fact is NFF need to be truly independent!  And for that to happen, it must be able to generate its own revenue to fund its programs.

We must understand this. NFF isn’t ministry of sports and shouldn’t be structured to operate like a not-for-profit organization. For NFF to be truly independent, then it must be able to fund itself and its programs.

Football is big business! The sport has been successfully commercialized around the world. Football managers in Nigeria can take a cue from FIFA and other big leagues around the world; especially in Europe.

The life blood of football runs on Sponsorship and endorsements, media broadcast rights; transfer market operations. Then ticketing, merchandizing and recently, some clubs are moving away from private ownership into the public stock market.

Nigeria has a large market of football consumers. Football enjoys a kind of monopoly in this country of over 160 million people. You can’t imagine how much football managers are loosing to mediocrity and lack of foresight in football management.




 First, government at both state and federal level must be determined to hands off football sponsorship and let both Associations and Clubs operate independently.

Second, NFF board should elect only candidates who are entrepreneurship minded and grounded in sports business.

The president should embark on re-engineering the NFF structure to conform with a new business operational outlook.


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