The media has been awash with divergent opinions in the last few days over the nomination of Kwara United Football Club to join Remo Stars Football Club to represent Nigeria in the CAF Confederation Cup 2022/2023 season.
The NPFL Club Owners Association cited the nomination of Kwara United without their consent as an aberration that has undermined and taken them for granted. They have also complained bitterly how the federation has made them to waste their time, energy and resources in prosecuting the Aiteo Cup matches up to the Quarter-finals with nothing to show for their efforts.
In as much as the Amaju Pinnick led NFF is characterized by failures and have paid no attention to domestic football as demonstrated in the handling of the AITEO Cup, they have not violated the CAF statutes in this case.
To the best of my knowledge, The National Challenge Cup, (FA Cup or Federation) now known as AITEO Cup is a National competition with an independent status that predates all CAF interclub competitions with prize monies and other benefits that go with it for a winner and not necessarily playing in the continent.
The competition was not conceived for the purpose of CAF interclub competitions. CAF only use domestic competitions as a convenient means or procedure to get Continental interclub representatives from Member Associations.
Be that as it may, the action of Nigeria Football Federation by nominating Kwara United was in strict compliance with CAF regulatory procedure for arriving at the second CAF Confederation Cup representative in the top 12 Member Associations in the circumstance we found ourselves.
The law expressly states that, the winner of the National Cup should join the third best on the league of the Member Association, in an event where there is no National Cup like the Nigeria case in question, the defending champions should represent the Member Association, in an event where the National Cup did not take place for more than a year, the fourth best on the league should be sent to represent the Member Association.
Therefore, the NFF are unambiguously protected by the law to take the decision of sending Kwara United to the continent without consulting with the NPFL Club Owners or any other football stakeholder in Nigeria in order to meet the deadline for submission of club for the CAF interclub competitions.
If there should be a permissive aggrieved party justified to cry foul, it would have been Bayelsa United who are the defending champions and were lawfully supposed to be given the first consideration.
The Nigeria Football Federation might have skipped Bayelsa United for other considerations such as their unlicensed status or the action might have been taken with the consent of Bayelsa United.
Notably important is the fact that the NPFL Club Owners Association is expected to protect Member clubs which Kwara United is one of them. In this case, who is the Club Owners fighting for? Bayelsa United over Kwara United?
Up to this point, I am yet to come to understand why the NPFL Club Owners will champion a cause against their member, forgetting the fact that at the moment, the body has only four members namely Lobi Stars, Nasarawa United, Wikki Tourists and Niger Tornadoes out of the 8 clubs in the quarter final stage of the competition.
However, in as much as the NFF has not breached any law in nominating Kwara United, courtesy demands that they should have carried the participating clubs along by explaining to them the need to meet with CAF’s time of grace as well as the position of the law regarding the nomination, not necessarily to seek their approval but for them to atleast feel respected.
The NPFL Club Owners Association too overreacted by boycotting the competition which is tantamount to throwing away the baby with the bath water or biting one’s nose to spit one’s face.