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Super Eagles: When Nigerian Fans Don’t Matter By Aderonke Bello

It was a gut-wrenching Thursday night for devoted football fans in Nigeria, the international friendly game between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and Teranga Lions of Senegal played in faraway England without a single live broadcast back home. Thousands of Nigerians moved from their homes to viewing centers around the country, to catch a glimpse of the football match but to no avail.

. Super Eagles players and officials in London

The NFF had asked Nigerians to go and watch online via a provided link. Shamefully, the match that ended up a draw in front of a disappointing crowd was played at English Football League Two football club, Barnet’s ‘Hive Stadium’.

A Case Of Neglect?

Many die-hard fans bought the stipulated N500 ticket to watch the match but end up downtrodden as it was not shown eventually. The company that was scheduled to stream live the match later apologized with promises of a refund of the N500 paid without any offer of compensation.

The money of course is not an issue considering the depth of love and patriotism of Nigerian fans who would have loved to watch their beloved super eagles play. It is also a failure on the part of the NFF to schedule a football match without concrete arrangement to have it shown on mainstream TV, we are talking about our Super Eagles here. It is totally unacceptable, the NFF should be ashamed of this neglect of our passionate fans – it must not happen again.

A Case For Black Armband

The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) had earlier tweeted that players would wear black armbands to play in England in the wake of the Westminster terrorist attack (May the soul of the departed RIP). Regrettably, the NFF has never neither compel nor urge the Super Eagles to wear black armbands to honour the victims of insurgency, not even the fallen soldiers in Nigeria. Not even a thought of it.

I recalled in my opining not quite long ago to the NFF about the importance of respect, using the power and the strength of football in uniting the nation when top soldiers fall in battle, shortly before the Algeria/Nigeria match, late last year in Uyo, which unfortunately, fell on deaf ears.

Is The NFF Still Broke?

So many questions were on the lips of Nigerians who felt they should have shown the match live, and of course with no doubt, the Uyo Township Stadium would have undoubtedly be filled to the rafters. The glee on the faces of almost all the NFF board members, laughing away in the UK, with no expense spared hotel accommodations when they claim to be broke, truly beggars belief.

CAF and continental engagements and recognition seem to be the major focus and interest of our football administrators, than the feeling of soccer loving Nigerians in the actual sense. How on earth would you take a Nigerian friendly to England, and to add salt to injury by not ensuring that the match was shown live on TV?

On this one, the NFF failed woefully, and they owe over 170 million Nigerians an apology for what truly transpired in the game against Senegal. Looking beyond the situation, our football administrators need a change in attitude. A word is enough for the wise!

. Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello is Independent Journalist, Digital Documentary Maker, Public Speaker, Change Agent, Sports for development Enthusiast , Advocacy.

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