Howdy…hopefully you are having a great week, irrespective of your country staying or crashing out of the world cup.  Since inception, the stats on this site have indicated that the largest percentage of our visitors come from the United States, England (second) and Nigeria (my home country) is a paltry third. Apparently charity no longer begins at home. Only makes sense for me then to reciprocate the gesture shown by Americans by supporting them at the World Cup and I’m glad they made it through to the knock-out stage.

What a World Cup it has been so far, considering I wasn’t really keen on watching it, I am now hooked. Hopefully this world cup would be remembered for what it really is, a footballing spectacle rather than a tournament that showed the world what kind of man Suarez is, or how players would place their personal benefits over the needs of a country. The latter is actually the focus of this post.

I have never represented my country in any activity, sporting, educational or otherwise, truth is someday I hope I would. I am pretty certain that a lot of people share that opinion but the reality is that at least 90% of citizens of every country would never represent their countries in any official capacity in their lifetime. Some school of thought might even increase that percentage to 95% or even higher.

This bestows some form of responsibility and pride on anyone selected in any capacity to represent an entire nation to perform to his or her optimum. Apparently this ideology is lost in our modern day game especially with teams from my continent. No tournament where there is African representation passes without issues relating to players welfare or attitude making headlines.

Before the current world cup, the players from Cameroon refused to fly to Brazil sighting issues of unpaid allowances, the Ghanaian team (our best hope at this tournament in my opinion) embarrassed the whole continent as the country had to fly in 3 million dollars in cash to pay its players to avoid a boycott, the Nigerian team have just towed the same line and refused to train due to disagreements over allowances. The Nigerian team has one of the highest budgets for teams at this competition, according to the breakdown, each player will pocket $10,000 as winning bonus for their group games, and $12,500 for the Round of 16.The players are to receive $15,000 for the Quarter Finals, $20,000 for Semi Finals and $25,000 for the Final match.

Accepted that whatever emoluments promised should be paid as at when agreed but to hold a whole country to ransom because some delays are being experienced just goes to show why as fans we are the last remaining soul of football. A major criteria for joining top clubs in England is the percentage of national team games you play. Ironically when these players are seeking moves abroad they are willing to play any amount of games to get their numbers up.

The Ghanaian situation particularly hurts because I work in a financial institution and I keep trying to picture how that amount of money was flown in cash to make payments in 2014. Picture this, a Ghanaian FA official named Mensah has a list of players in his hand and they are gathered in a meeting room.

Mensah (in accent like Samuel Kuffor on SuperSports)   – Hello boys, we are gathered here to share the allowances for da group matches of da World Cup so fer. (fer as in far). On da mention of yor name, kindly step forward.

Mensah (screams)  – KP Boateng! KP Boateng!! Where is that confused tattooed boy who doesn’t even know if he is from Jamny (Germany) or Accra?

KP Boateng – Here boss! Strolls over with his sagged baggy pants with huge pockets waiting to dump the money in it.

Mensah (screams yet again) – Micheal Essien! Michael Essien! – Considering you are always injured, I don’t even know if you are deserving of this money. Micheal Essien ignores him, he is more interested in checking if his notes are complete and the officials haven’t extracted a dollar each from every bundle.  Mensah (screams him away) – get away you, maybe with this money you can finally afford to buy a comb to run through that your hair.

This goes on and on for everyone. Seriously, I have no other way to think of how this sharing would have occurred, yet they go on immediately after and put up their worst performance in the world cup. Even when Ghana lost to the USA, it was exciting. The draw with Germany is still the best game in this tournament and to see them throw away their chances at making it out of the group is nothing but a shame and  I hope the fans in their country give them a huge piece of their mind.

Joseph Yobo the Nigerian Captain before the world cup

As the captain of this team, I am privileged and proud and honoured to represent my country.

“The players are all happy and they know the task ahead.

“There’s no problem. We just need to agree on what we want to do. We are ready to play for Nigeria and we don’t represent our country because of money,” he said.

I guess we all know what to believe now. These guys are like mercenaries, the only motivation they have is money. The last thing I want to hear from a footballer now is that I play for honour, we know what you play for and please our IQ’s should not be insulted any further.

On the day Nigeria played Argentina, a bomb went off in the capital city Abuja just a few hours before the game killing almost 25 people yet that did not dampen the Nigerian fans as twitter, bars and even offices were buzzing with fans supporting their country. I watched the first half of the game at the office and drove home to complete the game; sadly I was stuck in the usual mad Lagos traffic. Immediately Ahmed Musa equalized a few minutes after the restart of the second half, I could feel it on the bridge as there suddenly was loud screaming and people with outstretched arms informing other road users that we had equalized. 2-2 ! 2-2 they screamed!

Streaming the Nig vs Arg game live at the office.

Streaming the Nig vs Arg game live at the office.

 

We lost finally, but that is what football is, that is the joy it brings especially for countries like ours that are so divided and we can only come together when we play football. How is that the players no longer realize this? How is that they sing the National Anthem and watch the flag rise and all they can think of is how much they will get paid? How is that in a country where university strikes last almost a year and soldiers fighting an ever growing insurgency complain of lack of funds but players representing this set of people can demand anything and get almost anything they want? How is that they are so far from us?  Who do they really represent? Us, or their deep never ending pockets.

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FIFA sells its competitions to the highest bidder, league fixtures are set by TV Companies with no regard for how far fans have to travel between games, an average fan cannot afford to watch a game at the world cup, an average fan cannot even afford seats at the Emirates and has to wait for Capital One cup games to see his beloved Arsenal live. Football has lost its soul, footballers have lost it, as fans we must learn never to support the name behind the jersey but the badge in front of it because only that remains constant….or does it? Didn’t Vincent Tan of Cardiff City change everything about his club throwing away all the history? Hull City to Hull City Tigers? Damm! As fans we sure are fucked in this messy game of who can collect the most money from football.

What a depressing post for such an enjoyable period. Forgive me.

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