By Patrick Omorodion
All monies received from our World Cup participation will be accounted for.”These were the words of Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, the Director of Competitions at the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF during the week in Abuja. This is definitely a departure from the past and a new era in the administration of football in Nigeria.
It has never happened in football administration that the football house will address the press on issues of money accruing from the Super Eagles participation in the World Cup beginning from their debut in 1994 in the USA.
According to Dr. Sanusi, the NFF is expected to receive about $9.5 million (N1.3 billion) between now and the end of the World Cup in Brazil next July, out of which the sum of $1.5 million (about N233 million) is earmarked for the preparation of each of the 32 teams taking part in the competition.
He also disclosed that $8 million (about N1.2 billion) which is the difference after the money for preparation has been deducted, is the guaranteed money every team would get but quickly added that no team will get that exact amount as it is subject to with-holding tax, deductions on accommodation and all extras which he however, did not explain.
Still explaining how the money would be spent or distributed, he said that after all the deductions, the amount left is paid to the players who participated. He did not say whether those who took part in the qualifying rounds are also entitled to benefit.
The aspect that may force Nigerians to ask questions is his explanation that the FIFA money will not be enough for the NFF to prepare the Eagles as other areas like camping, friendly matches and general logistics are money gulping too.
If I may ask, what is preparation for the Eagles if camping and friendly matches are not part of it. Do you prepare any sports team without camping or playing friendly matches. Training without friendly matches to test how the players have adjusted or mastered the coach’s tactics and strategies is not complete, so I don’t know why extra budgeting should be done separately for camping and friendly matches after FIFA has approved money for preparation. Here is were the voodoo accounting system of the NFF is perfected to hoodwink the Federal Government which is always eager to release money for football which is seen as a ‘pill’ to assuage the feelings of angry citizens weighed down by bad governance which denies them basic amenities to make living worth the while.
Kudos must go to the Aminu Maigari led NFF which has broken the jinx of opening up its World Cup programme as it concerns finances. Ironically he was head of finance during the tenure of the vilified Sani Lulu-led Board which was accused of misappropriation of the Eagles World Cup funds through various sharp practices like arranging of a sub-standard hotel which the government during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
This present Board seems to have learnt from the immediate past Board whose major officials are still explaining to the EFCC what they know about the 2010 World Cup funds, hence the attempt to be transparent. But they have to ensure that they don’t get double money for the same purpose for which FIFA is paying each team about N1.3 billion.
Agreed, as Dr. Sanusi said, that FIFA won’t this amount until after the World Cup, but the NFF should be able to reimburse its financiers when it eventually receives its share of the FIFA largesse. The old order of keeping quiet and not letting the government know that it receives anything money from FIFA should be bygone.
Past World Cup and even the Africa Nations Cup budgets the NFF presented to government included the same areas of the Eagles preparation that were taken care of by FIFA and no time were Nigerians told that money was refunded to government which provided the money for the team’s preparation.
Another grey area in the NFF budgeting is in players and officials estacoode which is calculated up till the final match. The Eagles have never gone beyond the second round in her past World Cup appearances and no refund was ever known to be made. The only time sanity was brought to bear in the NFF’s World Cup budgeting was in the 2004 Africa Nations Cup in Tunisia when the Finance minister, Prof Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, during the Obasanjo era, gave the federation their money piece meal as they qualified for stage stage of the competition.
That method could be adopted again in order to save the country hard earned resources which find their way into the private pockets of officials football fans derogatory refer to as Nigerians Feeding fat on Football (NFF).
The government sees football as the major unifying factor for Nigerians and is proudly treating it as the king of all sports or number one sport in the country so it is not pretending to support it financially and otherwise but the resources appropriated should be used for the purpose it is meant. With this, positive results would always be expected and Nigerians would be the happier for it. It is really a new dawn for the NFF, money wise.