Football is a celebrated game all over the world. Almost every country in the world has both football players and fans. But, interestingly when people speak about football, it’s mostly the European countries that are mentioned. Top football leagues are from the European countries. Examples of these top leagues are: English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italy Serie ‘A’ and German Bundesliga. No African league is even close to this list. Why is this the case? In this article, I will tell you some of the reasons African football is not getting the glory it deserves.
Where are the African Players?
The European football leagues are currently experiencing an influx of African players. Hardly can you watch any European top league match and not see an African player in the field. Despite some of the racism cases, African players still consider Europe as the ultimate place to play professional football.
Some of the African Players who have made a name for themselves in the European league include:
- Sadio Mane(Senegal)
- Cheikhou Kouyat`e(Senegal)
- Mohammed Salah (Egypt)
- Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
- Kelechi Iheanacho(Nigeria)
- Wilfred Zaha (Ivory Coast)
- Eric Baily(Ivory Coast)
- Victor Wanyama (Kenya)
The above are just but few of the African players in the European leagues.
Why are the Top African players migrating to the West?
When an African player has excelled in his home country’s league his next target becomes Europe. Europe is the place to be for most footballers. The game of football in Europe is a prized possession. The fan base is dumb-founding. Stadiums are full during football matches. Fans are willing to constantly pay ticket fee to watch every game of their football club. Fans travel with their teams not only outside their home towns but also to other countries, for international matches.
Moreover, football is one of the top-paying profession in Europe. Top Europe footballers live a lavish lifestyle. They are iconized by their fans. They are celebrated globally. Which footballer wouldn’t want this? This explains the great migration of African top players to Europe.
What has limited growth of African football to full potential?
Ever growing corruption in most African countries affects almost every developmental aspects of these countries. Football, which falls in both the social and economic aspect is no exception. Most African countries’ football federations are characterized by fund misappropriation as a result of corruption. Football funds go into the pockets of federation officials instead of being channelled to develop the sport.
Football, just like any other sector, needs funds to sustain itself. Football leagues can not run without funds. In the case of European football, fans-through purchasing of tickets-give money to sustain both the club and the league. Nonetheless, European clubs have a large number of sponsors to fund club activities.
On the other hand, the case is not the same in most African countries. Many African football clubs lack enough funds to sustain themselves leave alone their leagues. Sponsors are rare to come across in Africa. The government funding is not enough. For Example, Kenya Premier League 18 times tittle holders Gor Mahia have not paid their players for close to three months due to lack of funds.
As I earlier mentioned, football is treasured in Europe. European countries have state of the art football stadiums. Besides loving the game, the fans also love their stadiums. Magnificent is an understatement when describing the stadiums in Europe. Before a football match commences, you may witness a preview of the stadium. I bet you will be swept off your feet.
Football facilities in most African countries are at a sorry state. But, it will be unfair not to acknowledge some countries that are currently having good football facilities. The likes of Egypt and South Africa currently have improved facilities. Tossing the coin on to the other side, other African countries have poor football facilities. This can even demoralize the players and the fans.
As I give my final thoughts, I would like to mention that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Some of the Top African players in the Europe leagues have started to develop their home countries’ league. Although there are some self-centred African-Europe players, the ones who appreciate their grassroots are out to give back to their countries’ football. This, without doubt, will go a long way in propelling forward African football.
The African governments have also chipped in by giving a listening ear to the pleas of footballers in an attempt to improve the game. The Africa Cup of Nations is also slowly going back to its glory day. Europe based players make appearances for their countries during the AFCON game- attracting fans all over the world to watch the African championship.
Lastly, the number of African countries playing the FIFA World Cup is increasing. If the above three causes that halt African football are addressed, surely glory for African football will be undeniable!
- Kazeem Tiamiyu: Nigerian footballer laid to rest as police face questions
- FIFA’s Aid Fund to Save Football World.
- How Coronavirus has Left African Football in Financial Bondage