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Senate Calls for Radical Football Restructuring

The Nigerian Senate has demanded an overhaul of football in the country despite the Super Eagles winning the Africa Cup of Nations on February 10, but is wary of becoming too involved in running the game. A new bill to repeal the Nigeria Football Association Act 2004 and enact the Nigeria Football Federation Act 2013 recently passed its second reading with senators deploring the current state of football in the country but divided on the issue of government interference and how to attract multinational sponsorship. Senator Adamu Ibrahim Gumba led a debate on “A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Nigerian Football Association Act Cap. N110 Law Of The Federation Of Nigeria 2004 And Enact The Nigeria Football Federation Act 2013 To Provide For The Administration Of The Game Of Football In Nigeria And For Related Matters 2013.”

Perhaps the most striking statement of the debate was made by Senate President David Mark, who lamented the poor state of the Abuja National Stadium, which he said had been overrun by reptiles and weeds.

The bill seeks to establish programmes on developing football including coaches and referees. The bill has also been described as an attempt to bring Nigerian football in line with FIFA requirements and away from government control, as well as in line with international best practices.

Mark in his remarks said: “It will be a major embarrassment if Nigeria fails to qualify for the World Cup. Football unites Nigerians and we have to do what it takes to save football in the country. Government cannot fund football and not be involved and this is what FIFA doesn’t want so we need to strike a delicate balance. This Bill needs to be accelerated so that we can remove the gray areas. Government alone cannot run football.”

He also acknowledged that all issues mentioned would have to be looked into at the Committee level to ensure a better system. In Mark’s opinion, “90% of the problems are due to the fact that some people are playing politics with the administration of football. That’s why our football is not going anywhere.”
The bill passed through its second reading and was referred to the Senate Committee on Sports Development.