Apart from Ghana progressing through to the Quarter finals of the FIFA World Cup, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to ban the Super Eagles from international football for two years is the best thing that ever happened to African football.
After a disappointing 2010 campaign, President Jonathan arrived at this decision with the help of his advisers. I only wish fellow African countries (particularly Kenya) would follow such an example.
We have a very big problem facing African football and it is one that has been brought about by own doing. Until we solve this problem we will always play third fiddle to traditional football giants South America and Europe.There is no reason to remind you of the massive amount of talent this continent has (because you probably know that) and neither is there any reason for me to continually lament about our sorry state of football.
However, in light of the Nigerian situation, it definitely is worth noting just how we came to find ourselves in this situation. First and foremost, as the most popular sport in the entire world, football no doubt has its fair share of die hard fans on the continent.
The EPL, where a majority of the continent’s stars ply their trade is the most watched league in Africa. Walk into a pub or bar on any given weekend when either Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool are playing, and you will be lucky to find an empty seat.
Such is the following that these clubs enjoy that when Manchestser United lost in last year’s Champions League final to Barcelona, an irate United fan in Nigeria ran over 4 people killing them instantly. Now i do not support such religious fanaticism, however, it just goes to show how deep a mess we are in.
Switching coaches six months or even one year before a major tournament and expecting the team to perform well is definitely not the best recipe for success. Moreover, over-reliance on star players who fail to live upto the billing when it matters most is also tragedy that must culled.
Again, most of our supposed football managers use the popularity of the sport as the launching pad of their political careers. They pretend to really care about the welfare of the players and the sport when in true reality, they harbour selfish ambitions. I can’t speak for Nigeria but that definitely is the case in Kenya.
The reason i am in total agreement with President Jonathan on this is because he is passionate enough to sacrifice two years to enable the country develop is football. How many leaders do you know of who are bold enough to make such a decision? Very few i guess. Ima Niboro the president’s special adviser on his part had this to say:
“Mr President has directed that Nigeria will withdraw from all international football competition for the next two years to enable Nigeria to reorganise its football.
“This directive became necessary following Nigeria’s poor performance in the ongoing FIFA World Cup.”
FIFA rules state that any Government interference in football matters will result in direct suspension, however, the Nigerian FA has announced that it will write to FIFA to explain its decision.
Nigeria’s ban means that the Super Eagles will miss out on the 2012 African Cup of Nations that will be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. There is no doubt that Nigeria will emerge stronger from their two year ban. With a sound youth policy and passionate population, all Nigeria needs is just some direction. My only hope is that rest of the continent can follow this bold decision.
Photo credit: from futboltrivias