It hit the news recently that the National Association of Nigerian Footballers (NANF), complained about the “invasion“ of Nigeria by foreign football leagues, particularly the English Premier League (EPL). NANF did not stop there as they are reported to have contracted Johnson & Steler Solicitors in London to initiate a process “to recover $10billion as outstanding royalties from 2008 to 2018 for the adverse effect of the invasion of the EPL and football betting using the Premier League games”.
While NANF may have a valid complaint, it is unclear from whom the sum is to be claimed, how the sum was arrived at or to whom it is to be paid. The NANF, headed by Harrison Jalla, claims to be a Players’ Union for Nigerian footballers, but in a reaction, the National Association of Nigeria Professional Footballers (NANPF) has denounced NANF, claiming that it is NANPF that is the legal representative of Nigerian Players, being the union registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), registered with the Registrar of Trade Unions and affiliated to the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) and Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Now, back to the complaint by NANF, last year, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated that the Federal Government would amend the National Broadcasting Commission Code to compel domestic brands to sponsor the domestic league with at least 30% of the money they spend on foreign leagues. Such is the regulatory framework that countries are putting in place to cushion the effect of foreign football(ers) on their domestic game. For instance, with the mega-spending by Chinese clubs on foreign players recently, Government demand gave rise to checkmating measures such as taxing ultra high-worth signings and requiring a certain percentage of expenditure to be channeled towards youth development.
With the likes of Chivita and Star Lager spending significant sums on Manchester United and other foreign clubs, NANF’s cry is another in the growing list, which restates the need for the national and sports authorities to strengthen the legal and commercial framework for sports development. While there remains the freedom of an open market, there is social and moral justification for compelling domestic brands to go to some length to contribute to the domestic game as well.