The world football family will be gathering in Russia from June 14, June 2018 to compete for the most prestigious sports trophy, the FIFA World Cup. Gernot Rohr will be leading the Nigeria’s Super Eagles to the mundal as they play in Group D against the national teams of Argentina, Croatia and Iceland in the preliminary round.
The FIFA World Cup is the most viable platform that offers players a rare opportunity to showcase their skills to a global audience. Therefore many players and their agents have over the years used the platform to improve their career and marketability.
The Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) calls on the Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr and the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to avoid any distractions and remain focused on the objective of delivering at the World Cup. This was contained in a press statement issued by the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) and signed by Olawale Alabi, the secretary general.
“Our admonition comes against recent statements credited to Mr. Rohr, alleging that some journalists were being induced by players’ agents to influence his team selection, a development we find to be spurious and inauspicious.
Having played through the qualifiers for the World Cup and being now on the verge of the competition proper, we find it somewhat disturbing for Mr. Rohr to stir the hornet’s by making such allegations with the tendency of creating bad blood with the sporting press and distracting the focus of the team from the task at hand.”
Global best practice allows for journalists to highlight players with exceptional performance that can add value to a team or sport. The statement further noted.
“While we agree that like in every profession, there could be quacks, for which the present administration has embarked on a registration process to eliminate, there is nothing strange in sports journalists all over the world bringing the attention of a team’s management to certain players whose performances they deem fit for national call.
In the event that they go beyond publishing and into such other activities that interfere with the process of team selection, it becomes obvious that they have gone outside their bounds and therefore incumbent on the coach to alert the NFF and SWAN to call such members to order.
It is unfortunate that, throughout the qualifiers and the preparations, Mr. Rohr never reported any such case. It is therefore disturbing that he would raise such an issue before foreign media with just few days to our opening game.
While we consider the action uncharitable, our position would have been to challenge him to name names, but, we consider that such conflict at this time would be undermining national interest.
For the avoidance of doubt, the position of our Association has been that Mr. Rohr was given a job to do and should exercise all the freedom to take his decisions.
SWAN has equally taken note of the laudable efforts of the leadership of the NFF to provide the team with all necessities, which leaves the onus of performance fully on the players and the technical crew.
We also call on all Nigerians, as the key stakeholders, to follow the Super Eagles with prayers and unwavering support.
On the part of the sporting press, we are fully committed to the best relations and promotion of the team in furtherance of our collective national interest, while we will not also mortgage the journalistic ideals of factual reporting and constructive criticisms.”
The poor performance of the Super Eagles at the friendlies has raised a lot of concern against team selection. Nigeria lost three matches against Czech, England and Serbia while the team recorded a 1-1 draw in their match against Congo which took place in Calabar. Nigeria will be playing her first match on Saturday, June 16th against Croatia.