By Richard Jideaka, Abuja:
President of Nigeria Football Federation Amaju Pinnick has explained that the choice of Nike as the kit sponsors of the national teams was the only option available to the country at that period.
Speaking on his one year in office, the former Chairman of Delta State Football Association gave details of how the Nike contract was brokered when other kits manufacturing companies turned down Nigeria.
"The question to be asked before even talking about the Nike contract is first why did Adidas pull out in spite of Nigeria's enormous success, especially within that period Nigeria won the Africa Cup of Nations, the Falconets also played in the final of the Women's U- 20 World Cup in Germany, and the Golden Eaglets won the FIFA U- 17 World Cup in United Arab Emirates for a record fourth time. At the height of those laudable achievements, Adidas pulled out? Question should be asked why Adidas pulled out," Pinnick said.
"When Adidas pulled out, we realised that the fact that Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2015 AFCON meant we were going to be negotiating from a weak point.
"Every company we went was shutting us out. PUMA specifically told us that if it is Nigeria they are not interested and that the only thing they can do is for us to go and buy their PUMA merchandize. To me I consider that as an insult. It's a major insult. We consulted other kit manufacturers too and they did not give us positive response and this was after making several attempts in talking to Adidas. As the President of the Federation I wrote to Adidas requesting to speak with them, they declined; even getting FIFA to intervene on our behalf because Adidas are FIFA's sponsors as well but they did not budge.
"Tactically, Adidas was trying to avoid us. So I said if I keep waiting for them, there is going to be a problem. At the end of the day Nigeria was left with no other option than to be purchasing jerseys.
"So when I saw the Nike representatives in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, initially they didn't want to talk to us but I had to call Austin Jay Jay Okocha and other ex-Internationals who wore Nike in their glorious days before the kit manufacturing company decided to speak with me. That is how bad the situation was then. So at this point the Nigeria Football Federation was discussing from a very weak position. So at this point anything goes."
He continued: "That time we had a lot of matches lined up for the national teams so were we going to be purchasing jerseys worth $20,000, $30,000 for every game? To me it was quite ridiculous. Eventually we opened discussions with Nike. Initially they didn't want to give any bonus. They said they were going to supply us with kits worth about $3.6million for four years. If we were to pay for these items we would have paid almost the same amount.
"So don't look at what they are giving us as bonus but what we have saved as a country in securing that after a very tight situation. We were excited about it and that was the first step. I went a bit further when we had the second discussion in London. We opened up everything and that's where the bonus issue started coming up, 'if you win this you will get this and if you win that you get that' and the bonuses were quite substantial. It also encourages you to perform.
"But now we have been able to persuade Nike and they have come out to say okay don't worry we are doing this. Now Nike has gone a step further by bringing some of the best kits that any country would have wished to have. So as from next year the kits that Nigeria would be wearing will be one of the best in the world."