It is the responsibility of footballing nations to constantly develop the round leather game as obliged by the world governing body. The Federation of International Football Association FIFA, categorically mentioned in one of its objectives,“To improve the game of football constantly and promote it globally in the light of its unifying, educational, cultural and humanitarian values, particularly through youth and development programmes”. – As cited in the FIFA statutes.
It is on this premise that the League management Company, LMC under the auspices of the Nigerian Football Federation signed a partnership with the Spanish League body, La Liga.
Simply put, the fruit of this marriage between both parties would be evident in sporting, administrative, commercial and marketing issues as well as create a room for exchange between clubs. The delegation led by La Liga’s president Javier Tebas met with the who is who in the Nigerian football and sports Ministry, confirmed that the partnership will bring forth mutual benefits.
Javier Tebas stated that “through this agreement, La Liga will provide the Nigerian league with assistance in various areas, such as sports – providing training to coaches –, club administration and the possibility of tours or matches between clubs from the two leagues,” explained Tebas. “We will also work together so that Nigerian players will have the opportunity to play for clubs in La Liga,” he added.
Bravo LMC! The level of development this current league board has brought to Nigerian football is indeed commendable, and cannot be over-emphasized. The Nigerian Professional Football League has not arrived yet but it is definitely on course to announce itself to the entire world. Yes, the League would gain traction.
That being said, the socio-economic ties between both countries have further been strengthened by this move as Spain is reportedly one of Nigeria’s trade partner in the oil and gas industry. Nigeria at some point gained much respect and was revered as one of top footballing nations in the round leather fraternity, but that has changed, owing to the country’s down-slide in recent times.
The move by Spain’s football body to partner the LMC might just be the cure to re-position the nations fortunes.
Frankly speaking, Nigeria will benefit more from this affinity than the Spanish counterparts. Football analyst, Oma Akatugba in his view stated that the Nigerian League body and clubs will learn new ropes and better their lots. ”It would open doors for capacity development i.e League management, clubs administrators, and coaches will have an opportunity to learn from a working system, – he said.
Also part of the promises made to the Nigerian delegation, is that there would be inter-club exchange. How does this work? Does this mean Players or coaches from the Laliga would come to Nigeria and vice versa? It is important to state that the La liga is one of the most enterprising leagues in the world with its supporters and fans widely dispersed which includes Nigeria. A vivid exposition would be necessary to bring it home to the ordinary football lover out there.
Citing an example from recent partnerships once entered by some English Premier League clubs clearly stated the intent where clubs practically exchange players on loan deals and permanent moves. Chelsea signed with Besiktas, Liverpool agreed with Belgian club KRC Genk in 2010, Arsenal set up a partnership with Scottish side Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2012, Manchester City with New York City Football club in 2013 and so many other.
”I don’t know what they mean by inter-club exchange. Sometime these are big words used to make it look viable. The Laliga will be unable to dictate to clubs like Barcelona on what to do with their players,” – Oma noted.
In terms of marketing, projecting the Nigerian league to the business world has been a tough call. Getting viewership and strategically positioning the teams as brands football fans can relate with. Sometime in November 2015, the South African football community witnessed the grande opening of the LaLiga office in Johannesburg, marking the organisation’s first representation in the African continent. They are breaking grounds, entering emerging markets and expanding their reach.
While appreciating this much needed partnership, it is expected that the NFF, LMC and the entire football community puts her house in perfect order to enable a fruitful five-year marriage with the Spanish