*Institutional structures can only safeguard the sport
From Rahman Salman-Olawoyin
Preserving football integrity is paramount to every stakeholder. Given the fact that match manipulation is still a serious concern for everyone who is passionate about the game, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) needs to strengthen match manipulation detection and prevention, to invigorate and enhance our domestic leagues, competitions and tournaments’ integrity.
There is no gainsaying that the League Management Company (LMC) and the NFF are committed to tackling match manipulation and protecting the integrity of football for match officials, players and fans.
Nigerian football, no doubt needs strengthening of its football integrity programme to provide the football authorities with a full suite of monitoring, education and intelligence services to further strengthen the integrity of football nationwide.
Under such programme, those in match manipulation detection and prevention would assiduously and effectively work to identify and analyse any behaviour or patterns and intents across the country in our domestic competitions particularly Nigeria Professional Football League (under LMC) and Federation Cup competitions and tournaments.
The NFF need to work closely with the state FAs across the country and in particular the LMC (which is currently marvellously working and expertly to put our domestic professional league in its rightful perspective), the DSS and the EFCC so as to ensure that any findings are provided by the appropriate organisations, and to support any relevant follow-up action or disciplinary proceedings.
The monitoring activities will cover various competitions, including our domestic youth and female competitions, as well as a wide range of national leagues. In addition to monitoring and detection, the NFF will be able to call on her in-house intelligence and investigation experts: EFCC and or DSS.
The NFF and the DSS will deliver a full range of fraud prevention services and provide a programme of educational workshops and other solutions to enable club owners, Team Managers, Match officials, Players, Coaches and Assignors to understand the importance of protecting the integrity of football and the repercussions of fraudulent activities.
It will allow them to confidentially and anonymously report any concerns match manipulator(s) (more so, Nigeria is in the era of Whistle Blowers), it would be an incredible achievement for the federation to be on the same page with FIFA in her fight against match manipulations and match fixing in a clear and unequivocal statement of intent and resistance.
There is no doubt that the federation is working hard to earn the trust of a whole range of stakeholders across the country and of course football, but it now have to join up all that work, expertise and insight and to provide the game with such a high level of monitoring and collaboration.
This unique programme allows the team of experts to monitor behaviour and patterns and to identify suspicious activities professionally and judiciously.
This will prove invaluable for sports federations and law enforcement agencies that are looking to pinpoint match-fixers which is inimical to the Nigerian domestic leagues and clubs in the continent engagements. These have been shown to increase awareness of illegal activities and match manipulation among those involved in the game.