July 2024

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Footballer Roger Milla once said: “It is thanks to football that small countries can become great.” Competing in international sporting events can do a lot of good for a nation. It can bring glory and attention, be used as a form of diplomacy, or even attract sponsorships and investments. African athletes have performed extremely well in a variety of sports. However, they are often mismanaged by their countries sports federations. This harms the individual athletes and tarnishes the overall reputation of the countries. All across the continent, there have been demands for better sports management.

Alleged contract violations in Nigeria

Earlier this year, Nigeria’s national football coach resigned due to unpaid wages and contract violations. Sunday Oliseh had only been on the job for eight months prior to resigning.  

“Your contractual violations and the interest of the nation necessitates that I tender my resignation,” he wrote to the Nigeria Football Federation  “So little help is being rendered me in getting the players to give their best and very vital conditions and advantages to the team play are also being sacrificed… my several e-mails and others seeking your aid to effectively carry out my duties were ignored.”

During the 2016 African Nations Championship in Rwanda, Oliseh had revealed that money problems were affecting his team.

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Zimbabwe expelled from the 2018 World Cup

Nigeria is not the only country to have difficulties paying its staff. Zimbabwe has been banned from the 2018 World Cup for failing to pay former coach Jose Claudinei Georgini his dues. Fifa stated that Zimbabwe’s Football Association (Zifa) had been given a grace period and yet failed to make the payments. Georgini is owed $67,000 in salary and allowances. The former coach is not the only one waiting on payments. Zifa has a debt of over $4 million.

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Kenya’s success overshadowed by corruption and doping

Back in February, Kenya narrowly avoided being banned from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The country missed a deadline to prove to the World Anti-Doping Agency that it is cracking down on doping. To ensure that Kenya could compete at the Olympics, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed an anti-doping bill into law. While Kenyan athletes have become known for earning gold medals in distance running, several of them have also been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs. Kenya’s success at the Beijing Olympics was overshadowed by several doping allegations. According to BBC, since 2011 over 40 of the nation’s athletes have failed drug tests. And as of January of this year, 18 Kenyan athletes have been suspended for doping and are serving bans totalling 55 years. Athletes who are currently suspended include Rita Jeptoo – who has won the Boston Marathon three times. Jeptoo tested positive for EPO in 2014 and was banned for two years by Athletics Kenya. The International Association of Athletics Federation has appealed to raise the ban to four years. After they were discovered using the substance Furosemide at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, Sprinters Francisca Koki and Joyce Zakari both received four-year bans. Lilian Moraa Mariita received the longest ban out of everyone. She has been banned for eight years for taking steroids.  Three senior officials from Kenya Athletics have also been suspended for alleged corruption involving Doha’s successful bid for the 2019 World Championships.

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Holding the athletes back

Ultimately, the corruption and mismanagement in administration hold the athletes back from realizing their full potential. For example, Nigeria has failed to qualify for three of the last four Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. The Super Eagles won the trophy in 2013, therefore, their skill is certainly not the issue. There have been several arguments between the coaching staff and the Nigeria Football Federation. The team had three different coaches in one year. How can the athletes perform their best when their situations are so unstable?

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SEE ALSO: South Africa’s Sports Minister Bans 4 Federations From Bidding For International Tournaments.