The major sponsor of the Nigeria Football Federation, AITEO Group, has threatened to withdraw its support for the federation if the ongoing crisis plaguing the football administration in the country is not resolved.
In a press statement issued through Ndiana Matthew, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications for AITEO, the company gave a 14-day ultimatum for the crisis to be settled or they will be forced to pull out of all sponsorship packages and agreement.
Mr Ndiana said in a signed press statement on Wednesday that the AITEO GROUP has become aware of media statements relating to suggested investigations of financial dealings at the NFF with respect to funds generated by financial sponsorship.
“As the leading sponsor of national football activities in the country presently and the largest contributor of the funds that ostensibly comprise the subject of the investigations, we are constrained to make our position known on the matter.
“We believe that it has become necessary, given the critical importance of providing well-meaning Nigerians with our views on the accurate position, to offer the following observations so that misunderstandings are avoided,” the statement read in part.
AITEO said since coming into Nigerian Football to take up financial support to the technical crew for the national team in April 2017, it demonstrated its satisfaction with the relationship by expanding the relationship to cover the sponsorship of the AITEO CUP.
The company said continuing satisfaction then led to their sponsorship of the NFF Awards (with the first edition held in Lagos February 2018). Additionally, AITEO has supported the NFF with building of State FA secretariats to support grass roots football development (with six across the zones of the country on the verge of completion and another 12 about to start).
AITEO also noted that they heavily supported the qualification of the Super Eagles for the 2018 World Cup offering huge incentive and bonuses to motivate the players during critical matches. During the on-going 2018 World Cup proper, AITEO hugely motivated the players with a bonus of $50,000 per un-replied goal.
The company said it insisted and approved the involvement and participation of Financial Derivatives Company Limited (FDC) as Official Funds Managers in the manner and upon the terms set out in the various contracts.
In their official statement, AITEO confirmed that Mediterranean Sports Ltd is the official Marketing Agency that facilitated and packaged its entry into Nigerian Football.
Mediterranean manages the relationships between NFF and AITEO in the manner and upon the terms set out in the various contracts. “We confirm that we are satisfied with the role and performance of MSL.”
The company warned that the position of the practices and regulation of world football in FIFA’s statutes, regulations and practices are common knowledge.
“Whatever the case is, Nigerian football cannot operate in isolation. This compels the absolute necessity to operate within the parameters that regulate the other 210 countries that comprise World Football. The prevalence of the current crisis detracts from the exalted heights of respectability Nigeria now enjoys in African and World football. Crises like these are unnecessary distractions and are unhealthy and divisive. If this persists, there will be only one loser – NIGERIA and its 180 Million people! This consequence must be avoided, at all costs,” the statement by AITEO said.
The statement added: “The persisting situation makes it difficult for us, as a law-abiding entity, to operate responsibly within the demands placed on us. Accordingly, we are constrained to indicate that unless these issues are resolved satisfactorily in the manner dictated by the requirements of the world governing body FIFA within fourteen (14) days hereof, we will deem ourselves compelled to reconsider our position with respect to participation in the various arrangements in which we are involved.”
With the next court ruling on the NFF crisis fixed for September, only an out of court settlement can see the warring parties reach an amicable agreement before the expiration of the AITEO threat which many fear will be a great setback for football if indeed carried out.
There has been renewed crisis in the NFF following the directive by the sports minister, Solomon Dalung, that a court ruling on its leadership tussle be enforced.
The ruling was interpreted as voiding the September 2014 election of Amaju Pinnick while supposedly giving legitimacy to that of August 2014 of Chris Giwa.
FIFA has made its position clear through correspondences and President Gianni Infantino that it only recognises the election of Mr Pinnick having duly supervised the polls that brought him into power.
FIFA, who also chided Nigeria for taking football matters to court, threatened to ban Nigeria if the present Chris Giwa-led leadership is sustained.