By Clive Marvin
France and all the other African countries had a dismal world cup campaign except Ghana of course, depending on how you look at it! What caught my eye was when after the awful performance of Nigeria, virtually one of Africa’s best teams is that the only concerned party was Good Luck Jonathan the president of Nigeria. Everyone was wasn’t bothered about what was transpiring in the Super “Chickens” camp.
French president Nicholas Sarkozy was also trying to sort out the blues mess and the only uninterested part y was FIFA. According to the World’s Soccer governing body government interference in the sport cannot be tolerated. Football has changed so much that it is only FIFA that is not keeping up with the pace. Today the game has become so profitable that all business men are looking at injecting at least a penny just to be part of the action. Countries are using the sport as a tourist attraction to the outside world, take Brazil as an example.
Many Brazilians resent the fact that their country is often known abroad only for samba and football. Yet while its booming exports range from iron ore to aircraft and crude oil, they also include footballers. Since the early 1990s, the number of players leaving the country to play for clubs abroad each year has risen from 130 to over 1500, making Brazil the world’s biggest exporter of footballers.
Sadly, export success reflects domestic decay. Last year, an average match in the national championship attracted fewer than 8,000 supporters (compared with 35,000 in Britain’s Premier League). One problem is corrupt club management: a Senate inquiry in 2001 found widespread tax evasion and money laundering. However that is a topic for another day.
FIFA president Joseph Sepp Blatter (photo)
Back to my point of government interference. Picture this the Nigerian government gives the Football association 900 million Naira to prepare for the world cup and all that they can reproduce is getting out of the group stage and FIFA expect the government to sit back and relax yet that was tax payers money they used to fund the team, is that fair?
FIFA only comes in when the governments try to interfere but turns a blind eye when there is corruption in the sport. Good Luck Jonathan’s concern wasn’t entirely the performance, but the corruption in the Nigerian Football Federation. It was so rotten that it started smelling and him being a president who is supposed to eradicate any trace of the vice he had to act. He suspended the country from international football but later rescinded the ban in time to prevent being banned by FIFA for what they sighted as government interference.
However there is a thin line between governments directly involved in the sport and interfering in the game. The gov’t should stick to building structures for the team but should leave the technical part to coaches. The role of the gov’t can be broken down to building stadiums, setting up academies that will feed the national teams, funding events like school competitions etc. The sport should however be run by the “right people”.
The right people should be business minded since today the sport has become a profitable venture for the rich. For as long as the so called businessmen don’t change the tradition of the clubs and the culture of the soccer in their respective countries. The problem with entirely leaving the ex internationals and former sportsmen to run the sport especially in Africa is that, when they get to handle more money than they did in their careers, they become like a 30 year old rural African taken to Las Vegas for the first time.
As for FIFA’s case they have enough on their plate and they shouldn’t waste time with poking their noses where they don’t belong. Jerome Valcke (Fifa general secretary) and company can channel all their energies in dealing with issues like goal line technology, poor refereeing and ensuring that we have unforgettable world cups like the one that just ended in South Africa.