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Governing Bodies

Unbelieved by the body, Nigeria Football Federation clocks milestone 90 years today

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

When an error, assumption or even both become the norm, a body and the society live in ignorance. Unknown the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) or possibly a determined refusal to accept the facts, the Nigeria football governing body clocks 90 years today having been formed on 21 August 1933 in Lagos.

But on the crest of the NFF is a inscription: “Founded 1945”.

One day, it shall come to pass when the true foundation date will be acknowledged.

The NFF is today 90 years old, an age that 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.

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No official of the NFF has come forward to defend their claim of the body being ‘founded in 1945’.

Their assumption emanates from the fact that the national cup competition, now called Federation Cup, began in 1945 as ‘Governor’s Cup’.

This itself is a distortion of historical fact on Nigerian football as the first three editions of the competition was not even organised by the then NFA but by the Lagos and Districts Amateur Football Association (LDAFA) which is now Lagos Football Association.

Verified archival materials have confirmed that the Nigerian football governing body was founded on Monday 21 August 1933 at house number 42, Broad Street Lagos. The building still exist, even with the same address.

Also, all the facts on the actual foundation date of the football governing body still exist and verifiable at the Nigeria National Archives at the University of Ibadan.

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On the front page of the then Nigeria Daily Times of 21 August 1933.

  On the front page of the then Nigeria Daily Times of 21 August 1933.

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.

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.

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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.

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The Nigerian Daily Times edition of 14 September 1934 reported the first Annual General Meeting of the then NFA, yet they don’t believe they existed before 1945

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.

Regarding the assumption that the national competition started in 1945 and linking that to the foundation of the football governing body is an assumption based on fallacy.

Documented evidences discovered by Sports Village Square point to the fact that the Governor’s Cup was not a product of the then NFA but that of the Lagos and Districts Amateur Football Association (LDAFA) which is today known as the Lagos FA, the oldest football association in Nigeria having been established in 1932 by Henry A. Potter, the same man who founded the NFA the following year.

The LDAFA and not the NFA called  for entries for the maiden edition of Governor’s Cup as published in the Daily Times of July 30, 1945.

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The LDAFA, which already had two other competitions –War Memorial Cup and European Cup –, called for entries for the maiden edition of the Governor’s Cup. This can be found in the Daily Times edition of July 30, 1945.

As at the time, football competitions in Lagos were along racial lines. The War Memorial Cup was open to all affiliated clubs and scratch teams affiliated to the LDAFA while the European Cup was for all affiliated clubs of Europeans living in Lagos.

In both instances, the teams paid entry fees of five shillings. The War Memorial Cup later changed to Mulford Memorial Cup to honour the man who did so much for football in Nigeria that he was affectionately called “Baba Eko” (respected elder of Lagos). He was one of the pioneers of the NFA.

Another fact to show that the Governor’s Cup was the creation of the present day Lagos FA can be gleaned from a write up in the Daily Times publication of November 6, 1946 in which the LDAFA Chairman, Frank G. Lloyd wrote that the Governor’s Cup presented in 1945 was in the custody of the LDAFA.

Frank G. Lloyd, Chairman of Lagos and Districts Amateur Football Association (LDAFA) in a letter published in the Daily Times edition of November 6, 1946 affirming that Governor’s Cup was owned by LDAFA and that plans were underway to transfer it to NFA in 1947.

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“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.  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.

Another pointer that the NFF was not founded in 1945 was the fact that it was first affiliated to The FA in England as far back as 1934. Reputable FA in England could not have registered a non-existing body.

As stated earlier in another story, the first secretary of the NFA, Joseph Mead told the first Annual General Meeting in 1934 that an application had been forwarded to The Football Association (The FA) in London for affiliation.

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That led to another opening in the search for the true origin of what is now known as the NFF. A letter, which was dispatched to The Football Association in England by this reporter was responded to by David Berber, the Public Affairs Officer at The FA.

Letter from The FA in England affirming that NFA , now NFF, existed before 1945.

He wrote in part: “I can advise that the name of the Nigeria Football Association first appeared in the FA Handbook for the season 1938-39 in the list of our affiliated associations. The NFA secretary at that time was F.B Mulford, with a Lagos address.”

That is an indication that the body had existed before 1945. Then a visit to the offices of the oldest football body in the world which will, on October 26, celebrate its 155th anniversary resulted in more startling revelations.

The minutes of the meeting of the council of The FA (England) held at 22 Lancaster Gate London on June 4, 1934 revealed that under item number 10, “The Nigeria Football Association was admitted to membership under Rule 5 of the Rules of the Association”.

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Minutes of meeting of the Council of The FA held on June 4, 1934. In Item number 10, “The Nigeria Football Association was admitted to membership under Rule 5 of the Rules of the Association”.

The affiliation of the NFA as an associated member of The FA was reported in the Nigeria Daily Times edition of September 14, 1934.

Like FIFA founded in 1904, the then NFA went into coma during the World War II. After the first AGM in February 1934, the NFA was in a state of inactivity, especially in the period of the World War II when according to Daily Times report of November 8, 1947, “all attention was on the Essential Work Order”.

It was 14 years after the formation that the NFA was reconstituted as reported by Daily Times of November 8, 1947. A similar scenario was that of FIFA, founded in 1904 but was inactive for 26 years till the inaugural World Cup of 1930.

 

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FIFA did not alter its foundation year to the commencement of the World Cup.  This is also the case with The FA in England, which was founded in 1863 but had its first FA Cup competition eight years later in 1871. Yet, the world’s oldest FA did not claim 1871 as its foundation year.

The first time the phrase: “Founded 1945” crept into the NFA letter head was in a correspondence with FIFA – a letter dated March 17, 1981 when a new executive led by the late Col. Mike Okwechime was announced. Before then, previous correspondences had just the affiliation year.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Governing Bodies

Samuel Eto’o apologises and reinstates Cameroon coach Brys

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Former Cameroonian star forward and now football federation president Samuel Eto’o apologised Thursday to national team coach Marc Brys, with whom he had been involved in a heated exchange this week.

The ex-Barcelona striker also confirmed Brys would remain in his position after it was announced the Belgian was to be replaced as head coach of Cameroon on Wednesday.

“I apologise because during our first unfortunate meeting, there was a lot of emotion… but the Cameroonian people are more important than us, and it is for them that we must work,” said Eto’o at a press conference.

Eto’o was referring to an incident captured on video during his first meeting with Brys, which was widely shared on social media Tuesday.

The pair were seen to engage in a heated argument, before Brys left abruptly.

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“Your mission is not an easy one, despite your qualities and experience, but you should know that you will have our support,” added the two-time Africa Cup of Nations winner.

Brys was appointed to the role in April by Cameroon’s sport ministry, much to the astonishment of the country’s football federation (Fecafoot) and its president Eto’o wrote to the ministry to denounce its “illegal” appointment of the 62-year-old.

Fecafoot said it regretted not being involved “closely, nor remotely” in the selection process for the new coach and his staff.

Belgian Brys will now oversee Cameroon’s next two crucial matches in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, against Cape Verde on June 8 and Angola three days later.

-AFP

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Governing Bodies

Footballers warn FIFA of looming strike

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FIFA Completely Opposed To 'blue Cards' -

Players have warned world soccer’s governing body FIFA that they are ready to go on strike over concerns the playing calendar is overloaded, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) said.

Maheta Molango, who has been calling for change since February, believes players have reached a breaking point. He says football’s packed schedule endangers players’ health and diminishes the quality of the sport.

“I can tell you a situation not 10 days ago where I went into a dressing room that was directly affected and said: ‘I’m happy to be here and bark a bit, but ultimately it’s up to you. How far do you want to go?” Molango told the BBC.

“Some of them said: ‘I’m not having it, we might as well go on strike. Some said: ‘What’s the point? Yes, I’m a millionaire, but I don’t even have time to spend the money’.

Demands on players have increased in recent years, as tournaments expanded and new competitions emerged, with players and managers criticising that the calendar demanded too many matches.

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“It was not even the union that said it, it was Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. We have reached a point where we cannot rule out any action,” Molango said.

Global players’ union FIFPRO, along with the PFA and the World Leagues Association (WLA), have threatened to take legal action if FIFA continues in this direction.

In a letter addressed to FIFA President Gianni Infantino and General Secretary Mattias Grafstrom, they expressed their concerns over the expansion of the new 32-team Club World Cup.

In response, FIFA denied their claims it had taken unilateral decisions to favour its competitions in the international calendar and would not consider rescheduling the tournament.

“Some of the changes in England with the domestic calendar have been forced by what FIFA and UEFA have done. What has happened is further confirmation that something needs to be done,” Molango said

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“We will always try to exhaust all diplomatic avenues, we have sent a letter, we have received a reply, but unfortunately time is against us. Sometimes between grown-up people, despite trying very hard to find solutions you need a third party to decide, maybe an arbitrator or a tribunal,” he said.

-Reuters

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Governing Bodies

Blow by blow exchange that thwarted meeting of Eto’o and Marc Brys

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Samuel Eto'o and Marc Brys get into hot exchanges

BY KUNLE SOLAJA. 

Disagreement between the ministry of sports in Cameroon and the leadership of the football federation of Cameroon (FECAFOOT) may have been the cause of the impasse currently going on in that country.

As the clock ticks down to Cameroon’s World Cup qualifying matches with Cape Verde and Angola, the team currently parade two head coaches.

On one hand is Belgium’s Marc Brys who is appointed by the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education. His appointment does not go down well with FECAFOOT led by Samuel Eto’o Fils.

On the other hand is Martin Ndtoungou who on Tuesday was named the new coach by Eto’o. In a press statement, FECAFOOT  chronicled what were seen as infractions on the part of Brys.

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First was his refusal to attend an earlier meeting slated for 10 May and initiated by the Secretary General of FECAFOOT.

Another offence was the Belgian release of players’ list for upcoming matches and holding a press conference in violation of FECAFOOT procedures. He was also accused of not communicating training schedules and taking isolated work initiatives as well as disclosing information of players to third parties and media without FECAFOOT’s approval.

Eto’o also accused the Belgian of not communicating the final list of players within the allocated time.

Press statement issue by FECAFOOT

Those appear the remote causes of the crisis which peaked following a botched meeting of the Belgian and the FECAFOOT officials on Tuesday.

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A technical adviser to the Cameroon Ministry of Sports and Physical Education, Cyrille Tollo who demanded for the agenda of the meeting was fired out on the orders of Eto’o.

He was suspected to be carrying out instructions from the sports minister.  When Tollo was asked to leave the meeting, the Belgian coach opted to also leave.

There and then the hot exchanges ensued.

Samuel Eto’o: “Please stay so we can work. If you leave, you won’t come back.”

Marc Brys: “Why are you talking like that!?”

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Samuel Eto’o: “I am president here.”

Marc Brys: “I’m a coach here.”

Samuel Eto’o: “You are a coach because I appointed you. I ask you to stay in this meeting. Because if you do not stay, I am obliged to question my Executive Committee.”

Marc Brys: “It’s me who decides.”

Samuel Eto’o: “You don’t decide. What you do, I take responsibility. In your country, you can’t do that. And you don’t talk to me like that. As a footballer, you can’t never talk to me. Stay, we’re working. Which country do you think I can do this in?

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Marc Brys: “No!”

Samuel Eto’o: “How can you do that in Cameroon? I was a coach.”

Marc Brys: “For 3 weeks.”

Samuel Eto’o: “I was a very great player.”

Marc Brys: “I’m leaving.”

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Samuel Eto’o: “If you leave, don’t come back.”

A source in Cameroon informed Sports Village Square that Eto’o may have shut himself in the hips as he is seen to be heading into confrontation with the government.

  It is gathered that that the minister in charge of internal affairs has instructed council heads not to permit any meeting of FECAFOOT.

  It is further gathered that the government was in the process of auditing the FECAFOOT accounts owing to fund disbursed but not accounted for.

  It is gathered that prior to Qatar 2022 World Cup, FECAFOOT collected 2.5 billion cfa which is about $4,142,675. The money which was to be refunded at the end of December 2022 has not been repaid.

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