Micheal Sodeke, the Acting Coordinator of the Football Intermediaries Association of Nigeria (FIAN) in this interview with Completesports.com’s ADEBOYE AMOSU speaks on the roles of the association and the challenges bedevilling the body. ..
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Michael Sodeke, the Acting Coordinator of the Football Intermediaries Association of Nigeria (FIAN).
The FIAN is a new association in Nigeria. What are the roles of the body?
According to FIFA, an Intermediary is a legal or neutral person to represent player, coach and a football club. Our primary objective is to manage and coordinate the career of players. We can as well work with coaches and football clubs around the world.
So your job is not different from that of agents?
Yes. But their is nothing like FIFA agent anymore. The name ‘FIFA agent’ is so powerful that some individuals were using it for selfish interest. This was the reason FIFA nullified it and revoked their license and mandated that player’s agent must register directly with FIFA.
Now, for you to be an agent you must register with your nation’s football federation.
Nigerian leagues are seen as critical area in terms of footballers’ representation . Many believe NPFL and NNL players are not represented by agents and there are contract issues with clubs. What is your take?
The facts is 75% of players in NPFL & NNL are represented by those I will term as unregistered intermediaries while only 25% are well represented by myself and my colleagues, these are the reasons we’ll continue to have contract issues and disputes.
As a registered intermediary, you have right to complain or petition anyone in case of contract disputes, while an unregistered intermediary can’t do it.
What is your association doing to put an end to this?
Our major challenges are the reaction of our federation and LMC whenever there are disputes between the players and their clubs.
Are you saying they are not supportive or don’t cooperate with your association?
Not our association in particular. I would say there is a clique in the hierarchy that frustrate our efforts. Last year, for instance, we have so many cases that was forwarded to the League Management Company and the Nigeria Football Federation, but up till now we have not received any response.
You just mentioned the word clique in the hierarchy of the LMC and NFF?
If the LMC or NFF failed in their capacity to sanction clubs that owed players, that means they have formed a clique. I believe they know each other – club owners, LMC, NFF. There are lots of instances. This is part of the reasons why we formed our association in 2017 (Football Intermediaries Association of Nigeria – FIAN)
Have you done anything in form of sensitization, raising awareness among the Nigerian leagues’ players?
Yes. We have had several meetings with the players union. We also wrote several letters to LMC and NFF, but we have not received any response yet.
At the end of last season we approached the Nigeria Professional Football League All Stars in Lagos for sensitization, still same result, because these players fear the club administrators.
I put the blame on the LMC because they have failed in their capacity to put the proper structures on ground
Are you saying the players don’t like cooperating with your body?
No, they are scared of club administrators.
Why do u think the players are scared of club administrators?
These boys don’t want their career to be frustrated. A club chairman once told me he liked my player but he can’t sign him because of my position as a registered intermediary. But as an association we plan to meet with the Club Owners Association of Nigeria to discuss this matter after our annual general meeting.
Do the NPFL and NNL players sign contracts that are respected by concerned parties?
All our clubs in Nigeria do not respect contract, one way or the other.
Is it the fault of the players or the administrators?
I will blame the Federation and LMC for their failure to set up good structures.
Our association is working hard for the betterment of Nigeria football and players. We have affiliated our association with the international body of player’s agents.
We also affiliated with European Football Agents Association (EFAA) and also have good relationship with Australian football Agents association (AFAA). All these bodies will be well represented at our upcoming National Football Summit in April.
We also have information on some people that are using football as a form of human trafficking.
On a final note, how is players’ agency regulated in Nigeria?
For now the Federation has control over it, but our association is ready to work with NFF to implement some crucial measures in registering new agents.