Tokyo 2020: Ministry of Youth & Sports Vs Athletics Federation Of Nigeria

The battle for supremacy occasioned by power tussle between the Sunday Dare led Nigeria’s sports ministry and the other faction of Ibrahim Gusua/Sunday Adeleye faction of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), is further plunging the country’s name into a bigger mess in the international community; in particular at the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympics Tournament.


Tokyo Olympics which started on Friday July 23, 2021 and will be ending Sunday August 8, 2021, has not so much favoured the Nigerian team due to some unpleasant developments and the unresolved in-house battles between the sports ministry and the AFN.


As known by sports enthusiasts, there was a shameful disapproval by the athletics integrity unit, of 10 Nigerian athletes from competing at the Tokyo tournament. As if this was not enough, phones given to athletes were also hoarded by the officials before the athletes dared to cry out.


Apart from these, the leadership of sporting events in Nigeria were also caught in the web of supremacy over sportswear – PUMA brand or Afa Brand?  Little wonder the different shades of colours of sportswear at the Olympics to the shame of the West African ‘giant’.


Placards displayed by some team members with inscriptions such as:  ‘why should we suffer because of someone else’s negligence’, among other inscriptions, better drives home this story.


In an interview session with Sunday Adeleye, Vice-President, Athletics Federation of Nigeria, followed by on Arise News TV today, Thursday August 5, 2021, it was established that the crisis in the sports domain under  the leadership of Mr. Sunday Dare, Minister of Youth and Sports, is mainly on sportswear brand issues, and other arising matters.


During the interview, Mr. Sunday Adeleye made it clear that the AFN had awarded PUMA the contract for the production of sporting kits for athletes at the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  But the Minister of Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, although not present for the interview session, had disagreed with the Ibrahim Gusua led faction of AFN over the contract award on the grounds that he had not been carried along before the deal was signed four years ago.


News reports revealed that, before Team Nigeria’s departure to Tokyo, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, unveiled another sportswear brand ‘Afa Sports’ instead of the ‘PUMA’ brand expected to be used by the Team at the event.


‘Afa Sports’ was then considered as the only approved official kits supplier for Team Nigeria; jettisoning the German PUMA sport kits despite the subsisting contractual agreement that is ongoing between the AFN and the sportswear giant.


The ‘Afa Sports’ brand, which was well embraced by Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, was the major contention between the Ministry of Youths and Sports and AFN.


In reaction to this, Sunday Adeleye, who was formerly a Technical Director of AFN before his appointment as a Vice President, confirmed to newsmen that he had never seen such a thing before.


He also lamented the effects of such irrationality on Team Nigeria and their performance at Tokyo 2020. According to him, “an athlete going to the Olympics should be well motivated and kits are part of it…


As a result of the drama between the warring factions, the administration of PUMA, in a letter dated  August 4th, 2021 and signed by the company’s director, Manuel Edlheimb, the sportswear giant has terminated its 4 years contract deal of $2.76m (N1.2 b) with Nigeria, based on the embarrassing recent developments.


“As a direct consequence of the recent developments, particularly at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 and pursuant to clauses 9.2 and 7.3 of the Agreement, we hereby terminate the Agreement with immediate effect…


In reaction, Ibrahim Gusau, AFN President, has confirmed PUMA’s withdrawal of the contractual agreement with Nigeria.


“German sportswear manufacturing giants PUMA has terminated its four-year contract with the Athletics Federation of Nigeria. In a letter dated Wednesday 4th August 2021 and signed by the company’s director Manuel Edlheimb, PUMA said it was officially notifying the Athletics Federation of Nigeria of its termination of Sponsoring and Licensing Agreement.


The consequence of this on Team Nigeria is that, failure to use the supplied Puma kits will mean that, athletes will miss out on monetary rewards for medalists, which the PUMA kit supplier had earlier promised. Gold medalists would have been rewarded with $15,000, silver medalists with $5,000 while bronze medalists would have received $3,000.


PUMA, also affirmed, the “discharged from any or all obligations towards all stakeholders involved and reserves all rights against these entities and individuals.”


Sunday Adeleye, however, blamed the Minister of Youth and Sport as being unpatriotic and insensitive … because he’s resolute at destroying some people and because he’s head bent to do whatever he wants to do.

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