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‘Division in Supporters Club killing Nigerian football’

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PHOTO: CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP

A national patron of the Nigerian Football Supporters Club, Felix Anirah has described as national embarrassment the sharp division that existed among members of the Supporters Club at the yet to be concluded Russia 2018 World Cup.

The Eagles failed to make it beyond the first round after falling 1-2 to Argentina in their last Group D match in St. Petersburg.

Before the club left Nigeria for Russia, the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, had invited the two warring factions to Abuja, where he set up a three-man committee headed by Dr. Rafiu Ladipo with Prince Vincent Okumagba, as the secretary. The purpose was for the factions to work together as one in Russia. It was never to be so.

According to Anirah, who had been with the Supporters Club for over two decades, a sharper division emerged within top members of the club soon on arrival in Russia.

Speaking with The Guardian Anirah, a former academical player in the defunct Bendel State said: “What happened in Russia was very embarrassing. To the extent that we were insulting ourselves, fighting ourselves and portraying ourselves as irresponsible people. That is not good for the Supporters Club because no responsible organisation will want to give money to such a divided club.

“I know that the bottom line is money. But can’t we just demonstrate maturity for once? I feel it is our collective responsibility to re-position the club. For someone like Ladipo, who has worked for more than 35 years to be alive and be experiencing this kind of disunity in the club, is very sad.

“For me and other stakeholders, I think there is need to sit Ladipo down and talk to him on the need to unite all factions because it is not healthy for the Nigerian football,” he stated.

Speaking further, Anirah said: “I am not looking for money, but a good atmosphere for all members to give their support to the Super Eagles whenever they are playing. I have made a lot of sacrifices for the club and Nigeria football. We want peace in the Supporters Club.”


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