Ripples as ministry takes over payment of overseas Super Eagles coach

Jhe continuing cold war between the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) is gradually degenerating into a situation of no love lost following the former’s recent decision to take over payment of the salaries of foreigners who have not yet been named. coach of the senior national team, the Super Eagles.

After the three-time African champions failed to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the ministry and the NFF held meetings in which it was agreed that a competent foreign coach should be hired to cobble together the ‘National team.

Based on the agreement, the NFF Technical Committee then submitted a shortlist of four expatriate coaches, namely Ernesto Valverde, Laurent Blanc, Philip Cocu and Jose Peseiro to the NFF for transmission to the Ministry of Sports for consideration.

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Thereafter a deafening silence ensued but a few days ago a statement ostensibly issued by the ministry subtly accused the NFF of delaying the appointment of a substantive technical adviser for the Super Eagles.

In the statement, the ministry made it clear that based on President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval, it has taken over the payment of salaries for foreign Super Eagles coaches.

“The ministry’s position is firm and fast that Nigeria deserves the best gaffer at this stage to help rebuild the national team and not just anyone will.

“The department, to avoid the challenge of funds to pay the adviser, has since approached Mr. President and obtained approval from the federal government to pay the coach’s salaries from now on.

“All NFF needs to do is select a strong coach and forward the contract and salary document to the Federal Government through the ministry,” the statement read in part.

It was the decision to take over what is the statutory responsibility of the NFF that has sharply divided football stakeholders. While some back the ministry, the majority see it as interference that could put Nigeria on a collision course with world football’s governing body, FIFA.

A former member of the NFF executive committee and president of the Rivers State Football Association, attorney Chris Green, said it was a welcome development, but expressed concern about the sustainability of the initiative.

“First of all, I think there is a bit of confusion here, whether football is completely autonomous in Nigeria by the dictates of FIFA or whether it is still run by the federal government.

“We still have the dichotomy of NFA and NFF. While the NFA is recognized by the Legislative Act of 2004 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the NFF is established by its statutes recognized only by FIFA. We need to clear up this confusion and get clear direction.

“It’s a welcome development if the federal government pays the salaries of a foreign coach, but I’m concerned that those salaries will not be paid when due.

“The second part would be one of control in light of the saying ‘he who pays the bellringer dictates the pitch’. Who bears the brunt if the coach fails or fails to meet the expectations of Nigerians?

“I thought the NFF announced that Aiteo was responsible for coaching salaries, as has been the practice in the past. What changed? For me, we need a clear way to run this game,” Green said.

FCT Football Association (FCT FA) President Alhaji Adam Mouktar Mohammed said: “Well, there is a lack of clarity on this issue. One, you have to ask first, is this the proper arrangement as this is a case where the coach works for NFF and is paid by the ministry. It is definitely not good because where will the loyalty of the coach sit?

“Who does he respect? Why was this arrangement decided upon? There is a void and a failure somewhere. Many things need to be corrected if we want to move forward. Things are shrouded in uncertainty, so it’s not easy to comment when you don’t have the facts and the clarity. »

For his part, a veteran sports journalist, Danusa Ocholi, praised the ministry for taking such a bold step saying the NFF had failed to meet its financial obligations.

“I received the news with mixed feelings. First of all, it underscores the reality that the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), which bears the responsibility of paying coaches and other staff, has failed miserably. in this domain.

“It is quite obvious that the current NFF has not been judicious in the management of subsidies from FIFA and CAF, and its sponsors. Accordingly, the federal government must step in to save the country from the embarrassment of foreign coaching duty with the case of Gernot Rohr a recent example.

“In this area, I welcome the decision of the federal government. And to do this, the government should take an interest in the foreign coach who should be employed.

“They should not allow the coach who will look after the national team to be brought in through the back door as this is being considered for selfish reasons. First and foremost, Nigeria should opt for a coach or coaches with a track record,” he said.

The Chairman of the Benue State Chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Mr Akpera Nase also supported the Ministry of Sports in its decision to take over the payment of the foreign coach of the Super Eagles.

He said this will lead to increased supervision and dedication from the coach who will be hired by the NFF.

“The Federal Sports Ministry’s decision to take over payment of the foreign coach’s salaries aims to strengthen effective supervision as well as checks and balances,” he said.

Nase, however, did not rule out selfish motives as he noted that the fight between the ministry and the NFF could be about who controls the billions of naira that flow into the coffers of the football federation from the federal government, sponsors and FIFA.

Adekunle Salami, Deputy Editor/Sports Group Editor, New Telegraph also said: “It’s not a bad idea at least to avoid the shame that the NFF almost always brings the country into non-payment. The Rohr problem with FIFA is an example of this.

“Are we asking why will the NFF fix the salaries they can’t pay? If FG can’t pay then we can settle for Nigerian coaches which the NFF can pay and somehow another, if we are all patient, we will eventually succeed.Senegal won the AFCON with a national coach.

However, FOSLA Football Academy Karshi board member Patrick Ngwaogu disapproved of what he described as excessive action by the Ministry of Sports.

He said that instead of taking responsibility for the NFF, the ministry should hand over all the money it sources to the federation to make the payments.

“It is the duty of the NFF to employ and pay the salaries of its staff including the Super Eagles coaches. ‘to occupy.

“The Ministry of Sports should make available to the NFF all the funds they get, so that they can make the payments themselves and the Ministry will then hold them accountable if anything goes wrong,” Ngwaogu said.

In his view, a former NFF medical committee member, Dr John Ogbadu, said he doesn’t care who pays who or where the coach comes from provided the Super Eagles soar.

“It doesn’t matter where the coach comes from, but he must stay in Nigeria and work full time, instead of ‘part time for full pay, must watch the Nigerian league and develop a workable football plan for our football. “said the director of JEC Suleja Hospital in Niger State.

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