NFF dedicate bulk of FIFA Forward funding to internal administration, neglect women's football

The NFF President Ibrahim Musa Gusau

REPORT NFF dedicate bulk of FIFA Forward funding to internal administration, neglect women's football

Solace Chukwu 07:10 - 22.12.2023

According to a report from FIFA, the Nigeria Football Federation received $8m in funding from the world football governing body as part of the FIFA Forward Programme, but aside from building two mini stadiums, much of which was spent on internal administration and governance

In the period of 2016 to 2022, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) received funding to the tune of $8 million from world football governing body FIFA. 

This much was made public as part of the FIFA Forward report, in which the Zurich-based organisation revealed that they “made approximately $2.8 billion available to the 211 FIFA Member Associations”, and “funded more than 1,600 specific projects… of which approximately one third relate to football infrastructure.”

The FIFA Forward programme was established in 2016 with the express aim of giving everyone around the world the chance to play football. According to FIFA, the disbursed funds “resulted in no fewer than 577 new pitches being laid and 208 new competitions established”. In Nigeria’s case, $2 million was spent on the construction of two mini stadiums, one in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State and the other in Ugborodo, Delta State.

The former project is “almost ready for commissioning” while the latter is still in the process of construction.

FIFA Forward mini stadium project, almost ready for commissioning
FIFA Forward mini stadium project, almost ready for commissioning (Photo by Segun Ogunfeyitimi - FIFA/FIFA via APO)

A breakdown of the allocation shows that operational costs accounted for 55 percent of the NFF’s spending. Nigeria also maxed out its $200,000 allocation for equipment. However, when it came to spending on projects, only 56 percent of the $4.3 million allocation was accessed.

The NFF spent $2.3 million on internal administration and governance, while allocating $700,000 and $200,000 respectively to operating costs for women’s football and competitions within its purview (e.g. the Federation Cup). 

Nigeria spending breakdown of FIFA Forward Programme funding

Africa-wide, FIFA approved funds in both those areas came out to $29.3 million and $49.5 million respectively; Morocco took the lead with $1 million spent on operational expenses for women’s football and $1.2 million sunk into competitions (specifically the establishment of a “competitive women’s football league”, with emphasis on “football education, infrastructure and standard remuneration for the players.”) 

The Atlas Lionesses made their World Cup debut in 2023 and reached the final of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations a year prior – firsts for them on both counts – with a squad largely composed of players from their fledgling league.

Morocco spending from FIFA Forward Programme funding

The NFF spent $2.1 million on the national teams (excepting travel, which – unlike most other African MAs – was not covered either partly or in full by FIFA Forward funding.) 

In total, Nigeria was entitled to $9.9 million in that time period, but only saw $8 million approved by FIFA. 

The disbursement of FIFA Forward funds is based on compliance by the beneficiary MAs with the relevant articles of the Forward Programme regulations, submitting to a central audit review by FIFA for each financial year, and providing compelling projects for approval.

It will be recalled that, in in 2016, following an audit carried by accounting firm PwC, FIFA encountered a number of discrepancies in the NFF’s books regarding the use of FIFA Development Funds. FIFA observed “circumstances which may indicate misuse of funds”, with “nine cases totalling $801,229 where there was no supporting documentation to substantiate the subsequent disbursements.” 

The NFF, confronted with this report, blamed unstable currency exchange rates, an unconvincing rationalisation that led to a temporary ceasure of FIFA Forward development funding until after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.