The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, on Thursday, engaged the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), via video conference, on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerian football, and urged them to firm up strategies to mitigate the effect of the disruptions and protect the domestic football industry.
The minister said it was imperative to assess the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the domestic sports industry, including football and consider strategies for charting a new course for football in the post-COVID-19 era.
He reiterated the need for NFF to keep the stakeholders, including the government and private sector, duly informed on the steps being taken, so they can consider interventions to protect the industry.
Other issues discussed in the meeting include plans on how to conclude the current football season across all levels as well as when to start the new football season and the formats for the various leagues, especially the NPFL.
Funding for the domestic league and need to win back the confidence of partners/sponsors for the national teams, in view of the dark clouds that have truncated the efforts to get more private sector involvement into the game also formed part of the discussions.
The meeting resolved that current football season will be concluded within six to eight weeks of the re-opening of the country and a clear go-ahead by the relevant authorities obtained to commence football activities.
The format to be adopted upon the resumption of football activities regarding the completion of the various leagues and Cup competition will be determined by the time available, health and security guidelines, as well as decisions by global football authorities on football calendar and international competitions, CAF and FIFA.
The NFF is expected to submit a detailed brief to the Sports and Youth Development ministry on the issues and the likely support needed to ensure the protection of the football industry as envisaged.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Gabriel Aduda, was part of the meeting, while the NFF team was represented by the President, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick, 1st Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi, 2nd Vice President/LMC Chairman, Shehu Dikko, Chairman of the Nigeria Women’s Football League (NWFL), Aisha Falode, and NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi.