Le Guen: NFF’s faux pas

THe embarrassment caused the nation by the Nigeria Football Federation’s sloppy handling of the appointment of a manager for the senior national team is one that was least expected from a group that is so exalted. The NFF’s let down is one that will be hard to live down, especially considering that the gaffe involved a foreign national. Without crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s, the Federation rushed to inform the nation that it was appointing Frenchman, Paul Le Guen, as the new Technical Adviser of the Super Eagles, only for the sweat merchant to spurn the appointment less than 24 hours later on the premise that the conditions given by him had not been met by the NFF.

The explanation given by the NFF that it had not really appointed Le Guen but that it was its technical committee that had merely recommended him for appointment by the Executive Committee flies in the face of reason and is a watery afterthought that should have been swallowed by the Federation. That statement revealed the NFF for what it really is. It avails the country a full glare of the level of competence in the NFF. Chairman of NFF’s Media and Publicity Committee, Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, who was quoted in the statement issued on the Le Guen saga by Ademola Olajire, NFF’s Assistant Director of Communications, said the coach threw the NFF’s offer at its face because of his unwillingness to live in the country or be given a target.

But appointing an employee anywhere in the world follows a procedure of application for the position by the prospective employees and interview(s) for those shortlisted before the final selection of the preferred candidate. Even when employees are head hunted, a process, which includes a meeting between the two parties where the issues of expectations on both sides are discussed, is still observed. Is the NFF saying it did not hold any discussion with Le Guen but rather depended on third parties or probably its whims and caprices to pick a coach for the national team?

If there was a discussion between the NFF and the coach, did the issues which made the coach turn against the NFF not come up for discussion? If they were discussed and Le Guen had already made his position known to the NFF, why should it go ahead to announce his name? Did the NFF hope to force a fait accompli on the coach, thinking that by making the announcement the man would be left with a Hobson’s choice of taking the appointment? Did the NFF hierarchy think through what it was doing before travelling the route it did?

Given the gawkiness with which the NFF handled the Le Guen’s matter, is it any wonder that football in the country is on a backward progress? If the NFF could not tidy up the issue of appointing a coach effectively, is it any surprise that the country missed the African Cup of Nations tournament in 2015 and it is going to miss it again in 2017? Is it a surprise that the Flying Eagles will miss the next African Under-20 Cup of Nations Championship in 2017 as well as the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in South Korea?

Is it a wonder that Nigeria, which was ranked 5th in the world in 1994, the highest ranking ever achieved by any African nation, is currently ranked 70th globally? Does the nation have to look any further than the ineptitude that has characterized NFF for this galling slip? Indeed, given the level of competence of the NFF, is it any surprise that football, which is a big business in other climes, has remained at the subsistence level in our country? Is it a wonder that the Nigerian league is a travesty, and that corporate bodies are not inspired to sponsor Nigerian teams?

The worst tragedy that can befall an organisation is probably the plague of an incompetent head because every leader does one of two things; (s)he either raises the organisation up to his level or brings it down to his or her level. Now that the NFF, which is at the head of Nigeria’s football industry, has dragged the nation’s football this low with the last straw being the Le Guen faux pas, the best option for the board is to resign. This is not a matter of completion of tenure; it is a matter of honour. It is a matter of wanting the best for the nation’s football. If indeed the people who superintend over the nation’s football industry desire a change for the better in the industry’s narrative, having demonstrated lack of capacity to achieve this, they should make way for others.