During the last African Nations Cup, the sports commentator clearly stated that the top-3 biggest events on our planet were the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics, and the African Nations Cup. This means that these 3 events have more followers and viewers than any other thing on this planet. To many sociologists and cultural experts around the world, football is not just a sport, but rather, a religion. It was even stated in a World Cup documentary just before the 2006 World Cup that football had more followers than the followers of Christianity, Islam, and Hindu put together. Football is not just a game you watch to enjoy or hope that your nation wins one World Cup, but rather, it is a powerful platform on which to increase your economic status and national image in the eyes of the world.
According to nationsmaster.com, Nigeria is the 50th richest nation making about $37 billion dollar annually. Last year, the English Premiership League made about $3.15 billion (£1.93 billion) in revenue. So the English local football league makes about 10% of Nigeria’s entire revenue assuming this statistic is true. This statistics does not even include revenue from the English national team in terms of sales from World Cup preparations, football gears, and participations in their European championships. So football in England could easily be up to 30% of Nigeria’s annual revenue.
When I see Shaibu Amodu, I do not only see the only Black African man in history that qualified Nigeria to the World Cup twice and maybe any African nation, or a man that has only lost one game out of 29 national engagements (97% undefeated rate), but rather, I see a man on which Nigeria can and should build a football economy around on a global scale. Success in business is all about perception and presentation of the seller based on the understanding of the buyers. Amodu represents the secret success story of Nigerian football that Nigerians have failed woefully in perceiving and selling to the world to generate an unprecedented flow of revenue into the national treasury. The world loves to associate and affiliate itself with success, but it is the seller that must package and present that success to the world.
Amodu as a coach is 100% Nigerian. There is nothing European about him. No one can say he is a product of Chelsea or Manchester United and that is why he has been able to qualify Nigeria to the World Cup twice. Every Nigerian child saw him in BCC Lions of Gboko and on the Nigerian bench. I still remember the effect and high self-esteem I acquired in 1985, when a group of Nigerian boys, who ate eba and kpomo (cow skin) like me, went to China to beat Germany on foreign soil to win the Under-17 World Cup. This was when the world accepted Nigeria as a global football nation, but we failed to capitalize on it economically even after Pele encouraged us to. God is giving us another chance, especially at a time when the Nigerian Football League, referees and coaches are dismissed as underrated, to package and present Amodu to the world on behalf of the Nigerian Football League.
The illiteracy and short-sightedness of Nigeria as a nation has gotten so terrible that all they can see is if Amodu is technical enough to perform well at one World Cup in 2010. Will it destroy Nigerian Football if he does not? I guess Onigbinde was the best technical coach Nigeria ever produced because he took us to the World Cup, lost more than half of his games, won none, and did not even make it to the second round as it is expected of Nigeria. The truth is this; Nigerians are not a technical minded people culturally. You want technical and fanciful football; go get a European or a Brazilian coach. Nigerians play speed and power football even from an earlier age. Why waste your time passing balls accurately when you can get to the ball before your opponents and take it from them easily? Europeans play technically because they were not raised on speed and physical strength. It is discipline based on the knowledge of one’s qualities that wins tournaments not technical abilities only.
It is time for Nigeria to use Amodu to demonstrate the hidden potential and success story of the Nigerian Football League and our coaches on the world stage. Let it be known that European and South American nations do fall before African coaches at the World Cup, even if they do not win it all. Let all nations under heaven understand in their media that African coaches in the Nigerian league do qualify teams to the World Cup with 97% undefeated rates and challenge their coaches to match it. All Nigerian citizens have a role to play here. Their job is to give Amodu all the peace of mind, positive words of encouragement, and support to be successful at the African Nations Cup and the World Cup. Remember, the goal should never be to win just one world Cup in 2010, but rather, to use the success of Amodu to engrave the economic potential of the Nigerian Football League, Nigerian coaches, and Nigerian referees in the hearts and minds of the followers of the world’s biggest religion (football) for the next 50 years.
English Premiership League: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premier_League