by George Akpayen
It is 14 years now since Nigeria last played host to Africa’s biggest football tournament, the Africa Cup of Nations. Interestingly, Nigeria played co-host with West African, neighbours, Ghana in 2000 and finished as runners-up of that edition.
Previously Nigeria, now regarded as Africa’s biggest economy by some analysts, had played host to the tournament once in 1980 when the format had just eight teams participating.
However, a chance to play host to another major international tournament has been dangled at Nigeria by Caf following the withdrawal of Libya from hosting the 2017 Afcon. With Libya pulling out citing unstable security in their country, Caf dispatched a circular to all of its 54 member associations informing them of “opening bids for the hosting of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.”
Supersport.com now takes a look at the possibility of Nigeria’s chances of playing host to Africa in 2017 if they put in a bid.
Previous tournaments hosted
Nigeria have played hosts to six major international sporting events. In 1973, the West African nation hosted the All Africa Games before playing host to the Afcon seven years later. It would, however, take the country almost two decades before they could host another major sporting event. In 1999, Nigeria hosted the Fifa Under-20 World Cup and a year later co-hosted the Afcon with Ghana.
A few years down the line, the country’s government pumped an estimated $360 million into building the National Stadium in Abuja for the 2003 All Africa Games. The stadium like others across the country would later become useful in hosting the Fifa Under-17 World Cup six years later. That was the last time Nigeria hosted a major sporting event.[eap_ad_2]
The hosting gains
Playing host to six major sports events has helped Nigeria in upgrading some of their stadia facilities over the years. From having just a top class facility in the National Stadium in 1973 which played host to the All Africa Games, Nigeria now have a number of sporting facilities in Abeokuta, Abuja, Bauchi, Calabar, Enugu, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos and Warri.
The number of stadia in Nigeria will grow by one when the stadium in Uyo opens in a few months. The stadium is estimated to gulp up to N16 billion (around $100 million), and it is already primed to become the new home of the three-time African champions in future.
Apart from the number of stadia across the country, hosting previous international sports events have helped the country improve their hotel facilities.
Of course some of the country’s tourist sites will benefit from playing host to the Afcon. The Olumo Rock, Yankari National Park, Obudu Cattle Ranch, Mambilla Plateau, Zuma Rock, Oguta Lake, Kwa Falls, the Royal Palace of Benin, Nok Cultural Safe, Kura Falls, Gashka/Gumpti Game Reserves and Barup Falls are just among tourist sites capable of earning Nigeria revenues.
In terms of visible economic influence that is how far the story has been since playing host to major sporting events in recent years.
Big, big minus
A big minus to a Nigerian bid for the 2017 Afcon is meeting the applications deadline of September 30. This is because the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is currently enmeshed in a crisis over its leadership and the issue of putting in a bid now looks remote, according to a staff of the football federation.
“I must tell you that it doesn’t look like the NFF is interested in any such (bidding for the Afcon). At the moment, the major concern is about who becomes the president of the football house, and there’s a big dispute ongoing. So hosting the Afcon is not part of their plans,” supersport.com was informed.
But by September 30, the doors for bids to host the 2017 Afcon will be closed and it will be left to see if Nigeria will be among the bidders. (supersport.com)[eap_ad_3]