In 179 days, we will have seen the end of the regular football league season and the start of a jam-packed summer in 2019 with the commencement of FIFA Women’s World Cup, AFCON, Gold Cup and Copa America.
Although it’s still seven months away, football federations across the globe will face a daunting task of preparing both male and female football teams for both the continental championships for the men and the FIFA World Cup for the women…and this will usually cost a lot of money, an excuse that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) cannot use this time.
For one, the Super Eagles are the cash cow of the federation, without it, the federation is broke. The Super Eagles remain the biggest football brand in Nigeria and one of the biggest on the continent. Big sporting goods brands, Oil and Gas companies, FMCGs, etcetera, all want to interact with the NFF because of the Super Eagles, not any of the other eight teams on the books of the NFF.
There’s more; the tenures of NFF boards is measured by the success or lack of it, of the Super Eagles. It means nothing if each of the other teams wins tournaments and the Super Eagles fail to qualify for, say, AFCON or even worse, the World Cup.
Such tenure will be described as a colossal disaster. Simply put, the Super Eagles is the standard and none else matters. Almost as if the NFF exists solely for the Super Eagles.
However, the biggest problem of this current leadership apart from generating revenue has been their inability to prioritize accordingly.
Usually, the Men’s events rake in more money for governing bodies than the women’s event. For winning AWCON 2016, the NFF got a paltry $50,000 from CAF as prize money – to put this in perspective, that sum is slightly more than what Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr earns monthly – flying the girls to Ghana, the venue of the recently concluded AWCON in a chartered flight would have cost the Federation around $30,000 for a round trip.
Following the renewal of CAF’s partnership with Total, a new 8-year deal worth roughly $1 billion, the prize money received a 300% boost. So, for winning the tournament in Ghana last month, the Super Falcons got $200,000. Still a fraction of what the winner of AFCON 2019 will get; $4 million, yet the Super Falcons have a World Cup to prepare for.
In France next summer, the winner of FIFA Women’s World Cup will receive $4 million, it will be very ambitious to expect the Super Falcons to reach the final let alone win it, notwithstanding, the NFF is expected to give the female team a proper show of support.
The NFF has been thrust in a dire situation they cannot hide or run from. Both AFCON and the FIFA Women’s World Cup will begin on the same day. As a duty, the federation owes it to both the Super Eagles and the Super Falcons that they get the best level of preparation.
However, it is tough to imagine that the NFF wouldn’t jeopardize the World Cup outing for the Super Eagles who will be returning to AFCON for the first time since 2013.
Look at it this way, if both teams crash out at the group stage, which one will be talked about more? Super Eagles.
So, whilst the Super Falcons deserve a proper camping and a number of friendly games, sadly they might not get half of what they hope to get.