On the ball…
AFRICAN PLAYERS ON THE CURRENT TRANSFER WINDOW AND THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC VALUE TO THE AFRICAN CONTINENT
BY CHIOMA UZOIGWE EMAIL: email@example.com
The current global summer football transfer window which formally closed on the 30th of August, 2017 has obviously triggered the intrigues, rumours and business ventures which culminated into actual movement of players from one club to another, and most times movement across borders, from one league to another. It also brings to fore the saga of our African players plying their trade mostly in the European market.
Often, the transfer window particularly this present one (July – August 2017), has sparked of a series of transfer sagas. Of note is that of Kelechi Iheanacho which dragged for a while on account of agent issues but thank goodness, he is now a Leicester City Football Club player from Manchester City. There are a few other major transfers and loan deals that happened for our African compatriots such as Mohamed Salah Ghaly, the Egyptian, from Roma, Italy to Liverpool FC, Uk and Serge Aurier from Ivory Coast who moved to Tottenham Hotspur, Uk from Paris Saint-Germain, Paris, France.
The pertinent question is, how impact-ful are these transfers and their attendant financial gain to the player and his immediate environment. Africans are in our nature ‘our brother’s keeper’. If you were the first to be financially buoyant in your family or community, you are expected to support the rest of your kin in their quest for better education, community projects and even providing for their daily needs. Indeed, until lately, an African was not really considered as being rich and notable until he could also fend for his indigent relatives.
We are witnesses of our African players coming home during their off-season to declare their largesse by driving expensive cars, holding lavish wedding ceremonies, etc., but some have embarked on meaningful projects that have impacted their families and communities. Daniel Amokachi aka ‘the bull’ has always been known to publicly reiterate that it was indeed football that ‘made him’ and changed the fortunes of his family. There have also been been notable testimonies in projects like the Kanu Heart Foundation; and lately, the Didier Drogba foundation which built five hospitals in Abidjan for less privileged women and children. All of these have no doubt impacted on human lives in Africa.
Obviously, the present crop of players earn more by virtue of developments in the modern football business, entertainment awareness, earnings from TV rights and endorsements. £25 million pounds transfer fees for Kelechi Iheanacho; £34 million pounds for Mohamed Salah Ghaly; and for Serge Aurier, £30 million pounds. The lives of the immediate family members of these players should change with the heavy weekly remuneration of £80,000 pounds a week and so on, even as this should help the individual player not only to conquer his poverty but also have a chance to repatriate some foreign exchange back to his home country. Some players have contributed immensely in the spotting and nurturing of local talent and improving upon the infrastructure required for the further development of the game in their home countries. The annual Green Springs Soccer tournament project by Nwankwo Kanu is a typical example. Some players have also set up businesses in hospitality, entertainment, food and beverage which have created employment for their fellow countrymen.
My take on this subject overall then is that players should not necessarily wait to retire from football before investing in their home countries as has been the trend. As soon as the ‘big cash’ starts rolling in, the paramount thing on their minds should be to invest back home as Football Careers do not generally span too long periods especially if plagued by injuries. It is in this way that the unsavoury incidence of immensely talented but now bankrupt ex-players in their retirement years will also be tamed.
Editor’s note: This column is a monthly one.