Super Eagles: “Show Us the Money”

Here’s something you can keep in mind for background as you watch today’s World Cup 2010 Group B game between Argentina and Nigeria (the “Super Eagles”), courtesy of the Nigerian journalist Ikechukwu Osodo writing in Berlin’s Tageszeitung (Where money rules over the playing-field).

Even as the very day of their opening match has arrived, Nigerian preparations are still incomplete in one important respect, Osodo writes, namely in the financial realm. It’s taken for granted that the players will win some sort of money-bonus from the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) should they succeed in defeating Argentina – but, again, match-day has arrived, and by this point that is hardly sufficient anymore. The way things in Nigeria work, it seems, money has a way of getting lost along the way if it is not pinned down exactly, so that the players really want to know now how much money they can gain, and for what: not just for winning the game, but possibly also a certain sum for each goal, maybe another to whomever might be voted Man of the Match, and the like.

The team coach, recently-hired Lars Lagerbäck from Sweden, is reportedly out-at-sea on this whole matter, as he well might be over something so alien to his Scandinavian cultural assumptions. As for NFF President Sani Lulu Abdullahi, even as he indicated himself willing to “show” the players their prizes before the game, his accompanying remarks could not have set too many minds at ease:

We know that it’s not about money. Each player wants to play at the World Championship and give his best, and our players of course made it clear that for them at this tournament it does not come down to money. But the money could offer an incentive to gain three points [i.e. to be the winning team].

Rather weaselly words, to Nigerian ears. It’s also a shame that we fans are not likely to get any news update – in any language – in time just before the game to learn how things turned out. We could try some big new social-media campaign to agitate to get financial rewards listed on TV just before kick-off, I suppose, right along where the starting line-up is displayed, but I suspect such a suggestion would not go down too well with FIFA officials.

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