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Nigerian Football; sporting dreams, financial speculations and national pride (Part 1)

Nigeria’s business directory presents the first of a series of insights into Nigerian Football and ‘The promise of golden times for the sport’. These articles will look at the highly lucrative investment on young footballing prospects, the damage being caused to the Nigerian game by the promise of money, the lack of infrastructure and the impact of failed dreams. Nigeria's Business Directory and its sports business team will simply introduce the current situation in this first article.


Nigeria has shamefully not qualified for the African Cup of Nations, another classic scenario of one step forward and two steps back. Stories during the world cup talked of, a lack of money and facilities for the team, lack of bonuses and disorganisation. With all this in mind why are so many agents and sponsors generating money from the Nigerian game, the evidence says that it could be a very lucrative investment if carried out correctly. There always seems to be rumours of several more million Nira filtering through unofficial sectors of the Nigerian game which should have been allocated to the infrastructure of the game, Nigeria’s Business Directory is an impartial profiler hence these areas will not be highlighted or tackled in depth.

Many believe that Nigerian football is due for real investment but within the right areas such as infrastructure and training, already syndicates and investors are rife within the countries national sport luring young and sometimes vulnerable players abroad. The right player can be worth millions to a would-be investor if he or she looks after the player properly. But is this current situation affecting the Nigerian National game?

There are positives to bringing a football player out of poverty, of course the moral angle is that these young players will make a career for themselves and feed their families and eventually if lucky represent their nation. Many examples of Nigerian players making it from ‘rags to riches are available, from Kanu to Jay Jay Okocha and many more’ 

For every good, bad or somewhat exploitive investment there is a tragic as well as Euphoric story. The question here is 1) Is Nigerian football a good investment and 2) is this situation damaging Nigeria’s national game?

The Premiership is the most watched sporting product in Nigeria and a very widely supported league, therefore the National game pails in comparison for most people. There is a saying ‘Charity begins from home’, maybe the Nigerian Football federation and would be investors should look to this. There is evidence to support the fact that if the game in Nigeria is structured better and the product packaged and marketed in a professional manner more people would watch it, more players would be nurtured through it and more sponsors and scouts etc would support and track the entire package. South African Football is the perfect example, although the national team has fallen slightly their internal league is fantastic and followed loyally. As a result of the latter other African players play there in an attempt to get scouted, or receive a good wage and of course play at the top tournaments. The latter will of course allow more investors to track their player assets and of course allow them to mature.  For every top player that makes it there are countless others left in Europe or Asia without contracts and with angry investors who feel the players have wasted their money.