Covid-19: NFF President unveils plans for football in post-Covid 19 Nigeria, other issues

Harry Awurumibe, Abuja

Apparently to bring football stakeholders to speed with the plans for football in post-Covid Nigeria,
President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Amaju Melvin Pinnick has spoken on why Nigeria reappointed Gernort Rohr as Super Eagles Head Coach and other football related issues in post-Covid 19 Nigeria.
Pinnick who spoke on Monday in a media call to journalists and that
also provided opportunity for Nigeria’s number one football administrator to speak frankly on a number of issues. Excerpts:

COVID-19 Pandemic:

“This has been a decidedly spiritual year; spiritual in the sense that no one anticipated what we have seen so far in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has caused so much disruption and still causing. But we just have to live with it. We are liaising with the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of Health, the NCDC and FIFA on the way forward. We have also been holding meetings; I mean the NFF Executive Committee. All with a view to forging a new frontier for the Nigeria game post COVID-19.

“We were quite explicit in official press statements with regards to monies we have received from FIFA and how it would be expended. We sought the advice of FIFA on the utilization of the monies and we have done accordingly. A few days ago, we received a circular from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on the imminence of th sum of $200,000 into our accounts. This money is our annual statutory funds from CAF and not anything special, though it is coming earlier this year.
Every money we receive, whether from Government, sponsors or FIFA/CAF, we inform the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports and we usually propose how the monies would be utilized. If they object to any particular utilization sub-head, we comply.
Why We’re Rowing With Rohr
We are of the view and conviction that Mr. Gernot Rohr deserves to continue the job he is doing with the Super Eagles. I believe he has earned it. He had a right of first refusal so it was not a problem. We included a few other things in his contract but at the end of the day, we were able to come to an agreement. Presently, I am proud of the squad that we have. Without gainsaying, we have good players competing for every department on the field in the Super Eagles squad. It is exciting and we believe the team is on to a good thing. It is important that we work with him to nurture together a team that we can all be proud of.

* State Of The Partnerships:

“COVID-19 has left businesses gasping for breath and it has been quite tough. It is tough for businesses now, so we just have to be realistic with what we expect from our sponsors and partners. We have had a number of meetings with them and we are looking at middle-ground situations that would be conducive for ourselves and for themselves. Our discussions are ongoing and we must continue to do everything to keep them in-house even as they also struggle to stay afloat. We are very practical on this matter.
Actually, we should continue to appreciate our sponsors and partners for what they are doing. Their love of the game has kept them, as well as personal relationships. The disgruntled persons who are doing everything to foist a toxic environment on our football have even been writing to them to withdraw their sponsorship, threatening them and all that. I received a message an hour ago about someone wanting to take PwC, our external auditors, to court. We should all rise up and question the motives of these fellows. If not for personal relationships and their passion for the game, most of our partners would have pulled out as a result of the deleterious activities of these individuals.
Before all these toxic issues polluted the football environment, we were well on the way to achieving our objective of making the NFF fully self-funding. At the end of the year 2018, we were about 60 per cent self-funding. But much of that progress is being eroded by these unwarranted toxic issues. All the same, we are going strong because we know that only the stout-hearted survive the big challenges, and we have that.

* NNL & Other Leagues:

“Unfortunately, we lost the Chairman of the NNL, Hon. Chidi Okenwa. May his soul rest in peace. What I can assure is that once we get the green light from the Federal Government to get going with football, we will ensure that the NNL and the other leagues also get going alongside the NPFL. The Football Committee will present its report by next week, and we are also looking to boost the leagues with solidarity funds from FIFA and from sponsorship funds.

* Coach Salisu Yusuf:

“Coach Salisu Yusuf has finished serving his sanction and that was why we sent him on secondment to Rangers International FC to help the club in its CAF Confederation Cup campaign. Of course, it is not an individual decision as the Board has to still look at it, and we also need to cross-fertilize with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and do some other consultations. But the truth is, he has served his punishment and I always said from Day One that punishment is meant to reform and not to deform.

* Eagles, Falcons Are Priorities

“Of course, the priorities for now would be the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers involving the Super Eagles, and the Women AFCON assignment of the Super Falcons. Those are the subheads guaranteed for now. I said earlier that COVID-19 pandemic has wrought some havoc and we just have to be realistic in our expectations from both the Government and our corporate partners. So, we are working with that reality and with that mindset.

* Sponsorship For the Leagues

“The truth is that the leagues have boards and the boards are to source for sponsorship for their leagues. But it has been tremendous hard work trying to get sponsorship for the leagues even before the pandemic. Now, things will even be tougher. Days ago, I was on another virtual meeting with another top company interested in broadcasting the NPFL. We are still discussing and we hope for good news by the time we get the green light to return the season”.

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