• Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

BALLPOINT: USING SOCIAL DIALOGUE AS A MEDIATOR TO BREACH OF CONTRACT IN NIGERIAN FOOTBALL – AN OVERVIEW OF BENDEL INSURANCE’S FOREIGN PLAYER TRANSFERS 2023

The Moustached Journalist says;

A respected legal practitioner and one of the leading sports law writers in Nigeria, Ezeaku Amobi esq. yet in another of his outstanding articles Social Dialogue As An Everlasting Solution To Breach Of Contract In The Nigeria Professional Football League Regime admonished against unnecessary fisticuffs over the breaking up of amicable agreements going on in the scenery of Nigerian top-flight football league.

The emblem of Bendel Insurance Football Club. Photo Credit: Culled from Bendel Insurance FC Fan Page on WhatsApp.

With the blatant disrespect and disregard for awards pronounced during the long duration of proceedings at the Players’ Status and Arbitration Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) by various football clubs in Nigeria and the our-hands-are-tied-stands of the committee in enforcing the awards given by it, the only sound and proper way to approach this issue is through social dialogue.

The Association of Professional Footballers of Nigeria (AFPON), the NPFL Board of the newly established League Management Committee (LMC), football clubs, all stakeholders (club owners/administrators), and sponsors should be willing and open to discuss the matter with a view to finding solutions that are acceptable for all parties.

Tanimu Benjamin, a confident lad and a solid steel in the central back for both the Benin Arsenals and the Nigeria’s Olympic Eagles. Photo Credit: Culled from Platinum News.

In September 2023, it was widely speculated that the former Bendel Insurance prodigy, Efe Aghama, has penned an undisclosed lucrative deal with Serbian giants, Macva Sabac FK. Without any formal public acknowledgement by both parties, the Serbian outfit still went ahead with the unveiling of the 19-year-old forward. The sad reality was that there was no comments from the 2023 Federation Cup champions to either clarify or debunk the transfer deal for quite some moments.

The ex-Bendel Insurance Feeders and later first team player dressed up in the 2022/23 season’s third kits. Photo Credit: Culled from Efe Aghama’s Facebook account.

It was later disclosed on the player’s Facebook account that he was privately in talks with his previous Nigerian clubside to part ways; a mutual agreement aimed at pursuing his career abroad. In a heartfelt farewell message to the fans of the Benin-based Nigeria Premier Football League side, he expressed his love for the club and its supporters, emphasizing the difficult choice to leave behind the strong bonds he had forged with the staff, players, and fans.

Reflecting on his dreams and aspirations, Aghama once said; “We all have our dreams; I dream football. And God willing, I’m a professional with Bendel Insurance; I also hope to take my game higher up the radar.”

The young sensation irking a fresh start with the Serbian outfit, Macva Sabac FK. Photo Credit: Culled from Efe Aghama’s Facebook account.

One could as well noted that barely anybody from outside the circle know what transpired on the inside regarding the player’s transfer saga between Bendel Insurance and Macva Sabac FK. This, many Nigerian football fans, can attest to the fact that it is a common nonchalance amongst NPFL clubs who would rather be partakers of shady businesses and choose not reveal the subject of the contract to the entire public.

It is high time for the Nigerian football authorities to woke up to the fact that there is a chasm between us and other climes in the application of FIFA Transfer Rules and the subsistence of contractual stability between football clubs and players. This, obviously, is another known impediment that has long ruin the business side of our football.

The unveiling of the former Benin Arsenals’ wonderkid. Photo Credit: Culled from Efe Aghama’s Facebook account.

Football clubs and club management should always bear in mind that players are the main actor on the stage when it comes to the round leather game of football. It is, therefore, our honest belief that if club management enter into social dialogue with players and other relevant stakeholders in the football arena in Nigeria, the shameful and disturbing upheavals resulting from breach of contracts would be curb and eternally crucified.

Highlighting the very massive role played by social dialogue after the ruling in Bosman case, Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) and Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) negotiated new transfer regulations with the European Commission and came out of it successfully.

Super Eagles and Bendel Insurance maestro Divine Nwachukwu is no doubt the missing piece that can outrightly change the game in the heart of the Benin Arsenals’ midfield. Photo Credit: Culled from Soccernet.

The Commission had required that new regulations were to be in accordance with EU-law, yet FIFA and UEFA convinced the Commission that professional football needed special provisions because of the specificity of the sector.

With Efe Aghama’s age-long dream move to Europe, a few others had concurrently been on trials in foreign clubs while some were closed to boarding the next possible flight to overseas whose names in the column are withheld due to anonymity. However with Imade Osarenkhoe’s astounding last season’s run, he was clearly favourite to leave the shores of the country for ‘greener pastures’. How soon will that have been? That for sure, the writer may not have envisaged but his stay at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium was completely outlived.

The magnificent strike from the poacher nicknamed ‘Black Bullet’ sent the entire ancient city of Benin going bunkers, given Bendel Insurance an important victory over ASO Chlef at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium. Photo Credit: Culled from Platinum News.

You might be interested to know how the writer had a firsthand knowledge about Imade Osarenkhoe’s ‘surprising exit’ away from his boyhood club even before it began to make rounds in the media is perhaps another wonder of the world. Advertently, one has to wit enough facts before commenting than to be said unfactual and land one into trouble. This is obviously one attribute that stands a good journalist out from the rest – creating a confidential and safe space for your source(s) and being able to note what is right from wrong.

After so much pressure from the fans both home and abroad to know the whereabout of their most prized talent with pictures of him spotting the jersey of a different clubside other than that of the famous Yellow and Green of the Benin Arsenals may have spurred the club management into actions. With feasible legal consequence against both the player and the alleged club side if the case was otherwise, obviously, it was not.

Obviously, no one was ready to turn a blind eye on the speculations that rounded the fans’ favourite exit unlike that of Efe Aghama’s Macva Sabac FK move. After severe agitations, the management of Bendel Insurance Football Club was compelled to announce the departure of the prolific striker, Imade Osarenkhoe to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Division League 1 side United FC on the club’s official social media pages.

The unveiling at the United FC Sports Complex in Dubai. Photo Credit: Culled from Bendel Insurance FC Fan Page on WhatsApp.

The 22-year-old sharpshooter joined the Dubai-based outfit on a four-year mouthwatering deal, has embarked on an exciting new chapter in his footballing journey. The deal was disproportionally claimed to be a success and has maintain an undisclosed stance between the management of Bendel Insurance Football Club, the player and his new club.

In the aftermath of the official unveiling of Imade Osarenkhoe, two high-profile personnel in the circuit of Bendel Insurance Football Club whose names are withheld for anonymity said that United FC as at that time of announcement were yet to fully pay for the securement of the sensational striker. However, nothing else has been said, written or tender in any tangible form since the previous official statement released by the club.

The Benin-born marksman scores the winner from the spot kick to hand Bendel Insurance a remarkable triumph over Enugu Rangers in Asaba that ended a 43-year Federation Cup drought. Photo Credit: Culled from BSNSports.

It is a thing of regret that in this current era of constant changing orb in football that most players’ contracts in the NPFL are never in disclosure by any chance. This, in most recent times, have led players to revoke their parent clubs and chose to get off the books in pursuit of a better offer elsewhere which in few instances have landed some in a bad or desperate state.

The Commission agreed to this provided that those specificities were agreed upon with the representative organization of the workers, International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPro). In 2001, the new FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players came into force. The main specificities were the protected period for players’ contracts, the transfer windows and the prohibition to terminate a contract unilaterally during the season.

Super Eagles and Bendel Insurance shot stopper Amas Obasogie with his stellar performances for the Benin Arsenals has earned him the honours of one of the best safe hands in goal in the Nigeria’s topmost football league. Photo Credit: Muyi Adeniyi.

If through social dialogue such feats were attained at the highest level of soccer governance, it is a big possibility even more here under the current regime of the rebranded Nigeria Premier Football League administered by the Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye-led League Management Committee and the NFF. While urging all parties to embrace, adopt and explore the concept of social dialogue as an everlasting panacea to the spate of breach of football contracts in Nigeria.

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