FIFA Council’s decision on 2030 World Cup: A wake-up call for Nigerian football

images 2023 10 05T222059.328

The world football ruling body, FIFA, on Wednesday, revealed that games of the 2030 World Cup will take place in six countries across three continents, Soccernet reports.

Spain, Portugal and Morocco will be the official hosts of the tournament, but the first three games of the competition will be played in South American countries Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

This is in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the competition. The first edition of the World Cup took place in Uruguay in 2030, and some of FIFA’s new plans are geared towards celebrating 100 years of the World Cup.

Uruguay will host the opening game of the tournament, and Argentina will host the second game because they were runners-up in the maiden edition. Meanwhile, Paraguay will host the third game because they are the traditional home of CONMEBOL.

This means that three continents- Europe and Africa- will host the Mundial for the first time.

What Is The Significance Of The New WC Arrangement for Nigeria?

All six countries that will be involved in hosting the World Cup will qualify automatically. However, the Super Eagles will still have to participate in the qualifiers.

The thought of even hosting the rest of the world in Nigeria isn’t feasible because of the standard of stadiums across the county except if something drastic happens in the near future.

Economically, it also would not do much for the country because Morocco are not close by in terms of proximity. However, since Morocco is an African country, the Super Eagles can bank on the support of the home team if they get past the qualifiers and get to play in Morocco.

Nigeria’s first participation at the World Cup came in USA 1994, 64 years after the first World Cup. While the Super Eagles have never made an impact at the Mundial with their best-ever performance in USA 94′, Nigerian fans can dare to dream.

Nigeria currently has a crop of talented players who could rule the world if they continue on their current trajectory.

The 2030 World is seven years away, and at that time, some of the players could have reached their peaks. Players like Victor Osimhen, Victor Boniface, Gift Orban, Akor Adams, Samuel Chukwueze, and Taiwo Awoniyi would be around the 31-32 mark at the time.

However, it is left to be seen what the youth chain would deliver for Nigeria because since the 2015 Under-17 World Cup set, which produced stars like Chukwueze and Osimhen, no other Under-17 set has produced top talents.

What Can Happen Before 2030?

First off, it is amazing that an African country Morocco, is making big strides in football, on and off the pitch.

At the last World Cup in Qatar, the Atlas Lions reached the semis, becoming the first African nation to do so. Hosting a World Cup is also another big stride, as they will be the second African nation to host the Mundial.

This is a big lesson for Nigerian football administrators and even the government. It shows that with the proper planning and proper systems in place, magic can happen.

The Nigeria Football Federation has become an object of ridicule, especially recently because of the issues of payment of wages, as seen at the last Women’s World Cup in Australia/New Zealand.

With the proper systems in place, issues like wage payments should not be seeing the light of day. Also, the home league should be worked on. Over-reliance on foreign-based leagues train Nigerian players and improve them will not cut it eventually.

Some of the past World Cup winners, Argentina, France, Spain, to mention a few, have great leagues.

A great example to buttress this is the fact that of the 20 clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League, none can produce a goalkeeper who can comfortably bench Francis Uzoho. At the last Africa Cup of Nations, the absence of a good goalkeeper was what cost the Super Eagles.

A functioning league ensures that there is a proper production chain for young players to rise through the ranks and eventually move on to do big things.

Also, the constant back-and-forth with the appointment of coaches has to be worked on. The fact that the NFF is still under the Sports Ministry is something to think about. To even make matters worse, the Sports ministry is headed by someone who has no notable background in sports. It is hard to see where the visionary plans would come from.

The road to 2030 is still a very long one, but there are still a lot of things to do in Nigeria football within that time. Countries like Morocco and South Africa have made giant strides, but Nigeria has been taking baby steps- at times backwards. Last week, it was Morocco beating Nigeria to the 2025 AFCON hosting rights. This week, it is their place as joint hosts for the 2030 World Cup.

Hopefully, Morocco’s latest achievement will spur a revival in Nigerian football.