NPFL’s absence shows government doesn’t know its economic importance, says Erico
Formers Super Eagles Assistant Coach, Joseph Erico, believes the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) and other leagues have not resumed long after other countries because the Federal Government does not know what football and other sports can contribute to the economy.
The NPFL has been off since March when the 2019/2020 season was suddenly cancelled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, the sector has been locked down even when other countries across the world have resumed sporting activities.
Erico told The Guardian yesterday that the continued delay in starting the league and other sporting activities in Nigeria is still a mystery when sporting activities have resumed in other parts of the world.
“Those managing the leagues are the ones that can tell us why the leagues are yet to begin. We don’t need to be in a hurry because I know if we don’t have the capacity to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic, which is in its second phase across the world.
“I think the government too doesn’t realise the worth of football. The PTF has to give them the go-ahead to start before they can do anything and I don’t know what they are waiting for.
“The government doesn’t see sports as big business. They only show interest when there is money to share,” he said. The coach expressed his sympathy for the clubs in continental competitions, saying it would be tough for them to cope in CAF championships with teams from countries where leagues are already on.
“We stretch our luck too far in this country. Our clubs taking part in the CAF inter-club championships are living on 50/50 luck whenever they face teams whose leagues have been active for a long time. Then you ask yourself how would our players cope in terms of fitness?
“And if they will play against a North African club, forget it, because they will stand no chance. As it is now, our qualification for the next round is predicated on 50/50 chances, it’s either we win or lose.
“We shouldn’t stick out our neck for them in this year’s CAF championships because our clubs are not prepared enough to go far in these competitions,” he said.
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