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Qatar 2022: Nigerian Brands, Businesses Rue Missed Opportunities

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In the next five or six months, from 21 November to 18 December 2022, soccer aficionados across the globe will gather in Qatar, where an Arab country will be hosting the global soccer Mondial, the World Cup, for the first time. Soccer
enthusiasts in Nigeria are yet to fully come to terms with the painful fact that Nigeria will not be involved in this tournament.

A country’s participation in a major sports tournament like the World Cup usually transcends the sporting activity itself. In virtually all the cases, it is accompanied by several business exploitations that can go a long way to boost
the performances of different segments of the economy of most participating countries.

Traditionally, during events like this, corporations and brands in Nigeria, like their counterparts in other countries, spend millions of dollars on
sports marketing and advertising, leveraging the emotional connection between soccer talents and their fans to bond with millions of consumers.


In the words of Biodun Shobanjo, Chairman of Troika Holdings, Nigeria’s largest marketing communication services group, “few forces in contemporary society influence massive numbers of people across the world more immediately than sport. In sport and everything it stands for, we find ourselves simply impassioned, in love, fear, sadness, or sudden excitement! From football fans to golf enthusiasts, sports continue to manifest itself for social cohesion, development, leisure and is nowadays, used as a strategic tool for advancement in emerging economies”.

Creative marketing communication experts that have increasingly become more adept at using the emotional bond in sports to build patronage and loyalty from consumers would have moved to their drawing boards to churn out proposals that will convince brand owners to commit funds for campaigns and activations around the global soccer fiesta. Nigeria’s failure to be at the world cup is not only agonizing for the millions of soccer-loving fans in Nigeria, but it is also a huge blow to the economy that is in dire need of stimulus. Businesses and brands that would have leveraged the opportunities provided by the soccer event to boost economic activities are certainly unhappy about Nigeria’s non-participation.

Beyond the pain of Nigerian soccer fans not enjoying the global soccer fiesta, all the stakeholders in Nigerian football – officials, players, corporate bodies, communication agencies, sponsors, sportswear manufacturers, market women, airlines, travel agencies, the tourism industry, viewing centre operators, and many others are busy counting their financial losses. Various corporate bodies that have signed deals with the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) as official partners of the Super Eagles, including those that were planning to get involved via ambush marketing have all lost out as the World Cup would have been a huge avenue to get good mileage and return on investment.

The Marketing Communications sector is one of the hardest hit industries by the Super Eagles’ failure to qualify for the World cup. It would be recalled that during the last World cup in Russia, many brands and businesses reaped huge
rewards from Nigeria’s participation in the tournament. Similarly, at the last Nations Cup in Cameroon where Nigeria did remarkably well, there was heightened activity in the advertising industry which resulted in huge revenues
for IMC agencies as well as media houses. Brands spent millions on creatives and buying media space across several media platforms. For the upcoming World cup in Qatar, the story would be entirely different as there would be no
serious motivation for brands to expend huge sums on marketing activities when there is not much emotional connection with the general population.

By extension, media revenue that should be coming in through this window later this year would not flow in. Nigeria’s participation would have elicited considerable interest from advertisers. Businesses would have loved to
support the Nigerian team, besides leveraging the live broadcast of Nigerian matches to expose their advertising materials and communicate their messages to the general public. Inadvertently, this would affect the quality of participation we would have ordinarily enjoyed from advertisers which in essence would affect the revenue of ad agencies and media platforms.

Another sector likely to be affected is the tourism and travel industry. During competitions like this, businesses in the travel industry, especially airlines, usually record high patronage because of the volume of people traveling to
such locations. Flight and hotel booking agencies also record increased sales of tour packages inclusive of tickets to cities hosting matches. This year this could only come in trickles. Viewing centers, popularly called “fan zones” in other
climes would also experience remarkable losses. Known to benefit from showing Super Eagle’s matches, the absence of Nigeria in Qatar would also see their profits take a hit.

Sunday Bamidele, who runs a viewing centre in Ikosi, Lagos lamented that the Eagles’ failure to qualify for this year’s AFCON would certainly affect his business. He says, “During tournaments involving the Super Eagles, our
business usually records huge profits. We make more money showing Nigeria’s matches than what we make from showing even European league club football. When Nigeria plays, everybody is one regardless of the club a viewer
supports. Even people who don’t watch football come to our centre to watch anytime Nigeria is playing. Nigeria not taking part this year would really reduce the profits we make during such tournaments. Not many people would be
interested in paying to watch most other teams play.”

All these underlines the strength and huge marketing opportunities that exist in hosting and participating in important sporting events like the world cup.
The world cup usually attracts the highest level of patronage from
multinationals. What has been surprisingly consistent is that Sports administrators in the country don’t show any sign of remorse for their failures to the Nigerian people. Football is one major tool of reconciliation, for
collective happiness, for the Nigerian people. To many it is the only instrument holding the unity of the “one nation, one people” mantra; that has held Nigeria together as one people in times of adversity. It was quite strange that the former skipper of the team, who was appointed Nigeria’s interim coach for the CAF 2021 Nations Cup in Cameroon and came back empty-handed, was reappointed to qualify Nigeria for Qatar against all odds. Many analysts had
questioned the rationale behind that decision. Besides, the sports officials who made this blunder are the ones sacking and appointing people here and there to justify or cover up their incompetence! In other climes, all executive members of the National Football Federation would have dropped their resignation.

The Nigerian Football Federation and the sports ministry should know that Nigeria and Nigerians are still bleeding over this colossal football failure! And most importantly, if not for their lackadaisical performance, Nigeria’s flag
would have been hoisted in Qatar with the rendition of the national anthem each time the Eagles are filed out for a match. This is one exciting point when all tribes and tongues would remain fixed, watching and praying for Nigeria to
excel. This is the fertiliser that grows patriotism. It is really a” killjoy” that Nigeria’s flag will be absent amongst the comity of football nations when the elites in the soccer world gather in Qatar this November. One can only hope
that Nigeria learns vital lessons from this huge mistake that can negatively affect her soccer rating for some years.

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