By Tony Ubani, South Africa
The International Media Centre at the Soccer City in Soweto, South Africa, is a centre piece of architecturalÂ beauty that houses the worldâ€™s Media for the 2010 World Cup.
Despite the buzzing presence of men, the much noise that one hears is the dancing of fingers on laptops and notebooks. But on Wednesday, the IMC, crackled as journalists tried to outdo each other when the news that Nigeria had â€˜bannedâ€™ the Super Eagles from international competitions for two years hit the airwaves.
Within a twinkle, Nigerian journalists became hot cakes. Groups circled round Nigerian journalists asking questions on why the Government took the decision. â€œIs it the right thing for the Government to do? Are they going to retrace their decisions? Are there corruption in the Nigerian FA? What is your opinion of the Government action on the Eagles?
So many question marks and yet no answers. The Nigerian problem has suddenly enveloped the historic quarter-final outing of the Black Stars which has become the talking point in the World Cup. But in trying to clean a dirty house, do we need to destroy the house?
It is very apparent that those who conceived the idea of staying away from international competitions to clean the house meant well, but the implementation of their idea was very naÃ¯ve. For a country that boasts of being the powerhouse of African football, crashing out in the first round of the World Cup is to say the least annoying.
And out here, many international journalists who have been following the mess of Nigerian football agreed that Nigerian football needs a messiah but also agreed that we need to respectÂ FIFA statutes. Jones John writes for
Independent Newspapers. â€œNigeria is the giant of Africa that is yet crawling. The world expects Nigeria to be the first African country to win the World Cup or even get to the final. But the problem of mal-administration has hampered Nigeriaâ€™s chances. I was stunned at the decision. They made a mistake. They would have subtly asked the leaders of the FA to quit from running football and not to embarrass the whole nation by this rash decision to quit the international scene for two years.
I became interested in Nigerian football way back in 1980 when you won your first African Cup of Nations in Lagos.
There are talents in Nigeria but you wonder where they go after a fine run in junior competitions.Â Angelino, an Argentine said that Nigerian football needs transformation. â€œEven before the match against Argentina, we were afraid because Nigerian football is rich. But we know that coaching is the problem. But with Lagerback, we were worried. I think that Nigerian football will do better if you declare the right ages of your playersâ€, he said.
But African Radio One commentator, Marcel supports the decision of the Government to stay away for two years. â€œIf you donâ€™t go through thorn, you will never wear the crown. If you donâ€™t take drastic decisions like the Government has done, you will never get things right. I support your Government. If you continue to live in perpetual fear of a FIFA ban, you would live in shadows. Some few individuals who have gotten to the FIFA corridor will hide under them and destroy what gives joy to Africans. Any little thing you do, they run to FIFA.
They are not bigger than the country. FIFA knows that Africa is a unique place. Government provides all the money and yet they donâ€™t want Government to have a say. No, my brother. That is unfair. The English say that who pays the piper dictates the tune. Now in Africa, he who pays the piper is made to be dumbâ€. Nigerian journalists who were cut in middle of this confusion also have their opinions.
DapoÂ Sotuminu of Compass newspaper said: â€œ Itâ€™s not good for Nigeria at a time we should be building for the future. The team played well but failed to get results. Itâ€™s like the President was not properly briefed on the implication of the self-inflicted two year ban. The handwriting is clear on the wall that some people want to get rid of the leadership of the NFA.
What they did was like smashing the fly together with the scrotumâ€.Â Ade Ojiekere of the Nation condemned the decision of the Government and asked if the Government would clampdown on other sectors that have failed the nation over the years.Â Ex-international, Carlos Binaebi NumaÂ believed the decision wasÂ hasty and smacked of chasing shadows instead of taking on the leadership of the NFA head on.
â€œDo we say because of mass failure in WAEC, there should be no exams for the next two years? Do we say because the energy sector has failed us, we should not have lights again? This decision of the Government will drag our football 50 years backwards. That we failed to plan does not mean we should waste our generation by not competing for two years. Please, Mr. President, give us back our football as our 50th birthday anniversary. To err is human and to forgive is humanâ€, Numa pleaded.
The storm is not yet over and the World is watching with keen interest.