BY KUNLE SOLAJA
The emblem of the Nigeria Football Federation(NFF) wrongly has the inscription: “Founded 1945”.
One day, it shall come to pass when the true foundation date of the football governing body of Nigeria, the NFF, will be acknowledged.
Sports Village Square boldly asserts that the NFF clocks 89 this Sunday August 21, 2022.
Next year, the football federation will clock 90 years – what in Latin is called “Nonagenary jubilee” but known as “Granite Jubilee” in other climes.
Like in other aspects of Nigerian life, football and indeed sports generally, suffer from poor documentation.
Despite overwhelming and documented evidences, it has been very hard, if not impossible, to get official recognition for the foundation date of the NFF which began as NFA on August 23, 1933.
Till now, the phrase: “Founded 1945” adorns the circular emblem of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). Sports Village Square asserts that it is a fallacy that the organisation was established in 1945 as even no one could verify the precise date the presumed event took place that year.
No fact exists to back the dateless foundation of 1945 except that the national cup, which is the present day’s AITEO Cup, started as Governor’s Cup that year.
It is yet another fallacy to claim that the national cup was a creation of the then NFA.
Sports Village square asserts again, that the national cup which had changed names several times from Governor’s Cup to Challenge Cup, Coca-Cola FA Cup, Federation Cup and now the AITEO Cup, was the creation of the then Lagos & Districts Amateur Football Association (LDAFA) which is the present day Lagos State Football Association.
It was the LDAFA that put up invitations to clubs to enter for the competition as published in the 30 July 1945 edition of Daily Times.
This is also corroborated by a statement by the then LDAFA chairman, Frank G. Lloyd published in the November 6, 1946. He asserted the Governor’s Cup presented the previous year was for a competition by his FA.
The article in part reads:
“This season (1946), as an experiment, invitations were issued by the LDAFA to numerous provincial associations. It is also intended that the Nigeria Football Association shall shortly be re-organised in order that it may provide a more effective vehicle for the experience gained in Lagos to provincial association.”
This proves that as at November 1946, the NFA was not organising the Governor’s Cup and as such, the year can not be taken as the foundation of the national football body.
It was in 1947, when Captain D.H. Holley became the LDAFA boss and also emerged the chairman of the NFA that the NFA began to organise the Governor’s Cup competition.
At the annual general meeting of the LDAFA on February 26, 1948, Captain Holley announced the transfer of the Governor’s Cup to the NFA.
The founding of what is today called the NFF began with a story captioned “Proposed Football Association” which was published in the July 27, 1933 edition of the Nigerian Daily Times.
It reported that a central football governing body was being proposed whose functions will include the organisation of matches, leagues and the formulation of cup rules and the management of football affairs generally.
The working group reportedly got in touch with The FA in London. Thereafter, a 21 August 1933 foundation date was arrived at. The advertisement and call for membership was published on the right-hand corner at the bottom of the front page of the 21 August 1933 Daily Times.
The foundation meeting was held that day at the 42 Broad Street, in Lagos. The building which still exists today was then known as Health Office.
The founding officials were: Henry A. Porter as President while three Vice Presidents were appointed.
They were: Frederick Baron Mulford, Sir Adeyemo Alakija and Dr. Isaac Oluwole. The Secretary/Treasurer was James Mead who worked at UAC in Lagos.
The report of the foundation was published in the 25 August 1933 edition of the Daily Times.
Their first Annual General Meeting, as reported by the Daily Times of February 22 1934, took place in Lagos on Monday 19 February 1934.
The meeting decided to seek affiliation with The FA in England. A check by the Sports Village Square at the offices of The FA in London was very revealing. The minutes of meeting of The FA on 4 June 1934 shows under item 10 that: “The Nigeria Football Association was admitted to membership under Rule 5 of the Rules of Association.”
The affiliation was also reported in the Nigerian Daily Times edition of 14 September 1934. Reputable FA in England could not have registered a non-existing body.
The various regimes of the NFA/NFF since 2003 have found it difficult to accept and effect the actual foundation date of the body. They are more concerned about a perceived global backlash they could receive for just realising the actual birth date of the Nigerian football governing body.
Even were not convinced when informed that the supranational football body, FIFA had adjusted their records when new information arose invalidating existing records
There are many instances to support this notion. Here are just four examples of FIFA changing its records when confronted with new facts:
- First Hat-trick of the FIFA World Cup
On November 10, 2006, FIFA officially acknowledged, via a press release, that America’s Bert Patenaude scored the first hat trick of the World Cup history. Before then, for 56 years, FIFA records and vast majority of books on the World Cup gave the credit for the first hat trick to Guillermo Stabile of Argentina.
Another discrepancy that was cleared up by the FIFA press release is that Oldrich Nejedly of Czechoslovakia has been awarded a goal. Nejedly is now credited with all three of his country’s goals in their 3-1 victory over Germany in the 1934 World Cup semi-final in Italy, which constitute the sixth hat trick in FIFA World Cup history. Nejedly’s new total of five goals makes him top-scorer outright of the 1934 FIFA World Cup, ahead of Edmund Conen (Germany) and Angelo Schiavio (Italy), with four goals apiece.
- Fastest Scorer of FIFA World Cup
For 12 years FIFA claimed that Englishman, Bryan Robson was the fastest marksman in the World Cup. Thanks to the goal he scored within 27 seconds in a game against France at the Spain’82 World Cup.
The fact held until 1994 when the British television company, Trans World International came up with evidence to the contrary and provided proof that the honour belonged to the Czech player, Vaclav Masek who put his team ahead 1-0 only 15 seconds into the match against Mexico on June 7, 1962 at the Chile’62 World Cup.
The acceptance of the change of record is published on page 3 of the February 1994 edition of FIFA News.
- Most Capped International Player
The former England goalkeeper, Peter Shilton was also wrongly believed by FIFA to be the player with the most international appearances for years.
At the time, Peter Shilton had chalked up 125 caps. But in 1995, the Saudi Arabians came up with new facts that their striker, Majed Abdullah had broken Shilton ‘records’ by more than a few.
The Saudi Arabian FA sent to FIFA documents that proved that their player had had 147 international appearances and that was 22 more than the 125 FIFA attributed to Shilton.
FIFA in a publication on page 10 of the January 1995 edition of FIFA News acknowledged the fact and promptly put the Saudi player as the most capped in the world.
- First Official Publication of FIFA disputed
Also, the world football governing body had believed for several years that their first official publication was made in 1929.
But in the FIFA Magazine edition of January 1988, the federation bowed to the views of respected football historian, Paulo Godog who provided evidences that FIFA’s first official publication was in 1905, a year after the body was founded.
Four years ago when researcher and author of ‘The History of Football in Nigeria – A Story of Heroes and Epics’, Dr. Wiebe Boer was unveiling his book, the NFF president, Amaju Pinnick at the occasion remarked that he was going to table the issue of the actual foundation date at the next General Assembly.
Boer, also made assertion that the ‘Founded 1945’ was a fallacy. He wrote on pages 37 and 38 of the book that NFF was founded in 1933.