We all know that football is one of the most popular sports in the world, together with basketball. But as much as it is a big craze throughout Europe, it also is a phenomenon in some African countries, especially Nigeria.
For already fifteen years, five areas in Nigeria’s Kogi state have been celebrating the annual Arsenal Day. This is a two-day celebration that celebrates the Premier League-team, Arsenal FC.
To prove how big of a festivity this is, thousands of Nigerians wearing red and white jerseys sing, dance, and party together. Of course, these wouldn’t be complete without an Arsenal-themed cake.
Ilyas Abdulsalam, director of the Ebiraland Arsenal fans club, says that the reason why they have the annual Arsenal Day is to celebrate their idolized Arsenal players. He says that it is proof of how much Nigeria love the English Premier League.
Abdulsalam then refers to the league as the most popular domestic competition. One report states that there are over 250 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa that watch the Premier League yearly.
This makes the league have a very fast-growing audience and market, which ultimately converts to tons of financial benefits. Even Manchester United and Arsenal have their own commercial partnerships with popular Nigerian brands.
One of this is Airtel, a telecommunications company. Even the country has their own Premier League where 20 teams are playing in.
So why is Nigeria overly-fond of the Premier League? Ukan Idagbo, a die-hard Man United fan, answers that question.
He says that the answer is simple, and that is because the Premier League is the most popular and competitive league globally. Lagos, Nigeria is another proof of the Premier League’s immense popularity.
In the city, commercial buses bearing club stickers can be found everywhere. Even billboards featuring the brightest Premier League personalities are laden throughout the place.
Then there’s Lolade Adequyi, who says that the English Premier League is marketed as the best football league in the world. With this, one can say that the league can be compared to the NBA, which is dubbed as the best basketball league in the world.
But it’s not all about hype, as the fuzz is also because of the Nigerian players who are playing in the league. As of now, there are eight Nigerian players in the Premier League.
These are Alex Iwobi, Victor Moses, Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi to name a few. To support this, another Chelsea fan named Austin Oke says that the league’s popularity also has to do with their fluency in the English language.
He says that their deep connection with the game is because they can understand what the commentators are saying. For now, Arsenal Day is the most popular fan-day celebration in Nigeria.
But because of the league’s uncontrollable growing popularity, it’s safe to assume that other club fan-days are going to pop up. Abdulsalam says that Man United, Chelsea, and Real Madrid fan clubs have started to take shape.
The top favorite team in Nigeria is Arsenal. This is despite the club’s seeming whirlwind in the previous years. Even the Gunners’ betting odds don’t coincide with their growing popularity as they’re on the 6th spot and have a 60/1 betting odds.
This shows that it’s not a matter of how good a team is, but it’s all about the marketing and which teams the Nigerian players are playing in. Take for example Manchester City who sits on top with strong 1/8 odds to become the outright winner of this season’s Premier League.
Manchester United sits on the second spot with 14/1 odds. And with Chelsea’s 18/1 odds nearing Man United, it can be expected that the team’s popularity in Nigeria might even overshadow Arsenal’s. This is very feasible especially that Nigerian Victor Moses plays as a wing-back for the team.
This is one of the reasons why more and more Nigerians decide to claim a free bet for a Premiere League wager from freebets.co.uk and other sports betting sites. They feel more connected to the game when they bet on their favorite teams and players.
And though Tottenham still doesn’t have a strong foothold in the African nation, it’s still expected that their 20/1 odds are enough to prove that they’re worthier to be celebrated than Arsenal. For those of you who don’t know, Arsenal has just beaten Tottenham in a surprising 2-0 victory.
So with all these being said, there’s no doubt that the English Premier League will continue to be a focal point of entertainment not only in Nigeria and the African continent but in other parts of the world as well.