Sunday, September 6, 2020 9:33 pm
…how the disruption began
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare has read out the riot acts to the Nigerian Football Federation and club owners that no stadium would be opened for any football game without strict adherence to the sports protocols, even as there must be total implementation of the club licensing control before the new football season can resume.
According to a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Mr Gabriel Aduda, “ We are happy that the ban on sports has been lifted after so many months of inactivity due to the Covid-19 scourge . The Ministry is not oblivious of the challenges that would be encountered in organising football matches. We canot take anything for granted. As a way of safeguarding the lives of our players, coaches, officials and fans, approval must be sought and given before any game is played. The Ministry would ensure that all protocols and guidelines are obeyed as directed by PTF and NCDC.”
The Ministry has set up a COVID-19 monitoring and approval team which would ensure compliance before any game is played.
Aduda warned that the Nigerian domestic league would not resume until basic conditions are fulfilled. ” We have a responsibility to enforce the implementation of the club licensing control as stipulated in the statues setting up the Nigerian Professional Football League .The domestic League will not commence until the regulations and controls bothering on financial and licensing control are enforced. The NFF must enforce these regulations and controls as stipulated, otherwise the Nigerian Professional and Amateur Leagues would not be approved to resume.These include proper licensing of players, Insurance for players and coaches , compliance with FIFA rules on players contract and transfer, running the clubs as professional endeavour among others.
The statement directed the NFF to communicate these decisions to the clubs to forestall any crisis.
How The Disruption Started
When Covid-19 began its trips to different countries, including Nigeria in March, the Nigeria Football Federation announced the cessation of all forms of football activities in the country for the next four weeks. That was because everyone thought that the pandemic would fizzle out in a puff. How wrong! Four weeks crawled into one month, two, three and more. That is all on-field activities like the matches of national teams, “Nigeria Professional Football League and other leagues, and youth football programs as well as street football.”
However, the federal government recently announced plan for Nigeria’s football leagues to start again, though with a caveat that matches “would be played without spectators while observing all the Covid-19 health protocols.”
Football stakeholders received the announcement by the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, with much eclat. One of them quoted by Daily Trust was the Chairman of the FCT Football Association, Alhaji Adam Mouktar Mohammed who said the decision was timely.
Also, the proprietor of Youth Arise Football Academy, YAFA, Abuja, Olagbemiro Olayinka said: “The decision is commendable. For those of us who are grassroots football developers, it was sad that we couldn’t do what gives us joy. I miss the kids so much so I am happy that we can now resume activities. Of course, we shall do everything in line with the given health guidelines.
Kano Pillars Technical Adviser, Coach Ibrahim Musa also welcomed the decision as he said ‘continental clubs’ (Plateau United, Enyimba, Rivers United and Kano Pillars) would benefit maximally from the resumption of football.
As he put it: “I have been praying for football to resume because those of us who are going to represent Nigeria in the continent are already behind schedule. Now we can assemble and resume preparations in earnest.”