We Plan To Revolutionise Nigerian Football, Says Emeruwa

• LMC will give way for more effective league management system
Nigeria’s football architecture needs total restructuring if the country must meet the demands of the modern era, Head, CAF’s Safety and Security Department, Christian Emeruwa, has said.

Emeruwa, who affirmed that the country has the human and material resources to rank among the best football playing nations of the world, said what Nigerian football lacks, currently, is proper planning and the will to do the tough, but right things.

Speaking in Lagos while unveiling his campaign for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) presidency, Emeruwa said the current strategy and vision of the country’s football is inconsistent and no longer fit for purpose.

“The time for change is now. Football is a powerful instrument that we have failed to utilise in Nigeria. It is unfortunate that the NFF has become a beggarly organisation that does not give anything back to the society. That is what we want to change.

“We have to push and break boundaries. Transparency, accountability, careful planning and a growth that creates opportunities for all stakeholders is what I am offering Nigeria,” he said.

Emeruwa described football as a powerful tool, which, however, cannot be effective without activities. According to the former head of NFF’s Integrity Unit, “Nigeria is too big a nation to be made to look like a joke by poor management.”

To change the narrative, he said his administration would ensure that only the best available coach is employed to handle the national team, adding that no player will be invited to the national team if he has not proved that he is the best in his position.

“Our statute will be reviewed to accommodate the dynamism of football. Excellence is non-negotiable because we want to build a virile football economy so that when players, coaches, football journalists and other stakeholders retire from their primary function, they will be absorbed by that economy.

“I am committed to using Nigeria as an example of progress in African football. That is why I am not looking at running a local football that is not in tune with the best global practices.

“If I become the NFF president, I will be holding the game in trust for Nigerians. The people will know how much we make and how we spend it. Every employee, including players, coaches, staff and media officers, will have contract duly signed by the NFF and the employee. It will spell out everybody’s rights and obligations. This will eliminate verbal agreements that usually lead to discontent and rancour among stakeholders.”

On the local league, Emeruwa said he would hand over the organisation of the various competitions to the clubs, who, on their part, will appoint officials to run them. He added: “I will dissolve the League Management Company (LMC) and help the clubs to elect leaders for the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL). The same thing will happen to the women league and all the other lower leagues.

“We will control referees appointment and arbitration of cases arising from the leagues and other competitions.”

“To get officiating right, we must change the system to make it more attractive. Nigerian referees are poorly paid because we operate an outdated system. They cannot be at the World Cup and big CAF competitions because they are not well-trained in modern officiating. They also lack the basic equipment for the modern football. 

“Morocco uses VAR in their local matches, which prepares their referees for games where such equipment are deployed. You cannot say that of Nigerian referees, some of who don’t even know how to use goal line monitor and sundry equipment.”

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