Expectations that Nigerian football is on course to regain its lustre could be aborted on the altar of corruption. An indication of this can be seen in the brewing storm around the alleged mishandling of television broadcast fees paid by sponsors of the top flight league. A players’ union pulled the rug out from under the deal by asking the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to unravel the circumstances surrounding the disbursement of the fund. Technical know-how and openness are critical to progress in football. Conversely, sleaze and vested interests constrain progress. To sustain the momentum it has recently garnered, the anti-corruption agencies have to get to the root of this case.
At issue is the initial N244 million the rights holder paid to the Nigeria Football League Limited — which has transformed to the League Management Company — as the TV money for the three seasons to 2015. The sponsor has yet to settle the balance of N100 million. Out of the N244 million, N120 million was reportedly shared among 25 clubs at N2 million per club per season, but the National Association of Nigerian Footballers is worried that the balance has been mismanaged. It petitioned the EFCC that the money found its way into the coffers of the Club Owners’ Association, which is the umbrella body of the clubs in the Nigerian Professional Football League, without due process. There are allegations that part of the money was fraudulently shared.