When lockdown began, a sense of realism set in for most as to severity of the virus. Not only in relation to our health, but our livelihoods also. Football in Africa, as with Europe and South America is embedded in our culture.
In the UK and in other parts of Europe, Football is not only embedded in the fabric of the culture, it’s a part of the economy. And in so, despite more important industries, professions, as well as issues at hand. There was a level of importance as to restarting the beautiful game.
Issues at hand Football – Contractual obligations. The television rights that if not fulfilled, could have had huge financial implications for clubs across Europe.
Football restarted to bring the feel good factor back to nation. Well, let’s not romanticize on solely this notion. The powers that be showed Football has the ability to be flexibility, in what was an almost impossible situation. Football adapted in order to remain solvent and survive. And in so, Football brought in measures to comply with government and health ruling(s).
With countries in Europe, Football federations and leagues in The Bundesliga, La Liga, and The Premier League. Including UEFA, Europe’s governing board were all overwhelmed with the pandemic. This in reflection, displayed the importance of football to the continent of Africa. The importance, but also the implications, and changes needed in our sport. Some of issues and concerns were the same. But our starting point by means creating change and continuing is different.
Africa has increasingly become a hotbed for talent, where players feature in leagues far and wide. From the MLS, across the Atlantic into Europe, and the Far East. Phenomenal stories of success and generosity ring loud.
As players in Europe were seeking answers and solutions as to the financial implications. Some players of African descent were seeking answers and solutions as to returning home to loved ones. In being stranded, as the clubs of these players were unable to make payments to playing staff, as a result of the crisis.
Football is the national sport in Ghana. And for much of the continent it carries huge significance – because of the club allegiances and colours we wear with pride. The feel good factor when our club wins, and our country does well in international tournaments. But because of the opportunity it provides in reward in being the next Kudas Mohammed.
With opportunity comes reward. And with the money available in Football, it’s provided many with the chance to provide for their families. But where opportunity and money lies, lay also the possibility in being taken advantage of. Exploited, to which there have been many stories.
The Premier League is the most lucrative league in the world. Followed by La Liga. What would be the advantages, and what impact would sport have to the economy, financially and the ecosystem if it was structured as well as The Premier League or La La Liga?
With so much talent available in Africa. Just as with players leaving for pastures new, and coaches coming to Africa for opportunity. One must ask the question. Why hasn’t a brand emerged from the African market such as the MLS franchise? The J-League, the A-League. The list is endless.
The same question can be said as to Brazil and Argentina. Two countries who have contributed so much to football in success, and have historically always had a huge pool of talent.
Tifo Football in 2019 produced some content regarding Brazil and why its league or competitions weren’t as successful as its talent or exports. The findings were interesting. Noting a lack of stability and continuity, with promising youngsters leaving early for stardom in Europe, or a pot of gold in Asia. There were findings also of previous notions and adages of ‘let’s figure it out’, later. Which is part of the unstable environment where there is a huge turnover in staff. Jokingly, and the common motto is ‘3 defeats and you’re out’. Although success is found in this environment. This environment also breeds instability.
With players leaving early for opportunity, what could entice them to remain at home and play in the domestic competition? Exposure! And to develop and be financially rewarded. Ghana have been world champions at youth level 3 times, and are currently enjoying a purple patch with players’ with talent emerging. Players in Africa are leaving for opportunity more than they have ever done in previous years. Because a) the opportunity is available. But b) the talent is there.
Despite having talent in abundance. For every success story, there’s a story of disappointment in leaving early for an opportunity abroad. But my question is now, why not have your cake in eat? We have talent in abundance! Players can seek opportunities far and wide. But why not also in the comfort of your own home.
Some of Europe’s biggest clubs are discussing the possibility of a European Super League. And in recent weeks and months, there’s been conversations regarding project ‘Big 6’, and even the revamping of the UEFA Champions League. The Nations League, the increase in participants in the Euros, the World Cup. Is it making sense?
Football, or the money in football is about reach and exposure. If youth football is jewel in our crown at the moment, then why not polish it. In some countries before senior games, the youth team play beforehand. And La Liga Promises, a youth tournament in Spain, which has been held now for several years is now reaching wide audiences. College Football in the US –
Reaches wide audiences and generates millions. There are infinite possibilities and opportunities. Some of the foundations have been laid in providing and increasing value. Not only in entertainment, but in the ecosystem of our game and homes for generations to come.
As always, I hope you enjoyed this article. It’s an ever evolving conversation and article that’s objective. There are likely to more factors and nuances.
As with our podcast. Like, comment with your views, share and subscribe/follow. We’ll be publishing another article at the end of November. We’ll posting as usual vía social media keeping up with the stories as they unfold in the coming weeks. As always if you have any questions or queries. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet or DM us at @teamghanaeu on IG or Twitter.
Written by Andrew Mensah-Twumasi @andrewmensahjr (IG/Twitter)
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