The Role of Nigeria Football Federation in the Denouement of Premier League Seasonal Disputes: Issues and Prospects
The stability of football seasons in Nigeria is consistently threatened by various factors. Leadership of the football federation witnessed management changes and transformations at different periods, including a change of name from Nigeria Football Association to Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). The commencement of the league seasons suffers setbacks and unnecessary delays due to various factors at the detriment of sports development in the country. This is a case study analysis on the Nigeria Premier League, using non-participant observation and secondary sources of literature relevant to the denouement of premier league seasonal disputes, including data from media reports and social media group discussions. The paper adopts a qualitative document analysis, and also explores the conflict management approach usually adopted by NFF on the commencement and completion of the Premier League annually. Findings show that issues on match venues, transfer of players, match-fixing, home team mentality, refusal by losing teams to play until the 90th minute or the abandonment of matches, and match bonuses are some of the sources of dispute that cause delays in the commencement of league seasons. One dispute transformation that NFF can bring about is to take drastic steps to mitigate disputes in the league. This would make the management of seasonal disputes go beyond boardroom disciplinary actions such as awarding teams three points at the expense of others, and address the sources of delay and disputes in the league. Politicisation of football administration, dispute or controversy over sponsorship, ethnicity and hostility perceptions of the ‘other’ result in non-transparency. Therefore, transparency is highly needed, especially in the area of rethinking home team vs. visiting team mentality if Nigeria is to succeed in having stable football seasons.
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