Back in the days, Nigerian companies were warmed up to encourage football and other sports. Some of the companies that were eager to sponsor sports are Coca-Cola, Nigerian Breweries, Chevron, Pepsi, Cadbury, Elephant Cement and others. Even a few privately-owned companies were attuned to sponsoring football, since it’s the most popular sport in Nigeria. These companies made sure that they had various dates marked out in the year for sporting activities.
These days, some of the companies mentioned above are still able to cater to sport sponsorship every year and they even do more during World Cup periods by sponsoring the Super Eagles and some other personalities abroad solely to enjoy some of the World Cup matches. However, the fanfare at that time and now isn’t the same. Now, there’s a period of drought which most blame on the nation’s sports administrators who enrich themselves without caring about the interests of the sponsors.
Part of the problem can be solved, says football pundits, if past sports administrators were made to account for the money given to them by sponsors, either by government or private companies, there would have been much improvement in local sports, especially football. And the incessant complaint of non-payment by teams would be something which never existed. But right now, even the state governments owe football clubs, to the extent that this has become a ‘normal’ thing nationwide. Oftentimes, while holding back the payment of young players, this administrators travel worldwide, enjoying themselves at the expense of others. They even go to the extent that they fail to pay travel allowances of players. Even the Super Eagles had their share of agony when they went for the last World Cup in Brazil.
These issues affect Nigerian footballers greatly, though some of them often claim that it doesn’t affect their performance. The truth is that when a worker isn’t adequately paid, the work slows down.
Furthermore, the administrators fail to take care of their ‘flock’ whether they’re in the country or abroad. A recent case showed that a foreign company arrived in Nigeria to sponsor local football clubs. However, they had to abandon the sponsorship project because the players were seen on the field of play wearing the jerseys of a competitor. It all boils down to the football administrators not educating their lads. So, lack of training and meaningful communication is a problem that also must be dealt with. Each football player must be able to grade himself alongside an international player. No company wants to deal with touts and thugs but sometimes, some football players in the local leagues behave as such.
So, corruption and a nonchalant attitude, as long as these exist in sports; will not pave way for sponsors to come in raise the curtain on Nigerian football. It is hoped that current sports administrators will shun the attitude displayed by the previous ones and be fully committed to take care of sponsors benefits and also let their lads enjoy the benefits of sponsorship.
Officials and sports administrators are often known to threaten their wards when things go wrong, such as non-payment of salaries or other benefits. The end result is that these young people stay quiet, unwilling to let go of the only bright opportunity they’ve seen. Also, they may be unable to complain to anyone about it. So, the show goes on…
If companies are seeing football as less attractive, there are other channels which these corporate bodies can turn to. There are music stars and movie actors today that easily draw the attention of companies in Nigeria. So sports organisations and administrators must realise that they have competitors right there in front of them if they must get the sponsorship they need.