Football is a sport that has millions of fans worldwide and in some cases gathered an almost cult like following. You have various football clubs and championships being played at various times in a year. We have all sorts of football memorabilia being hawked at all points in town, some original and others not. Footballers are being paid stupendous amounts of money for playing and living large lifestyles. Football is lucrative business indeed!
However, football has an almost sacred place in Nigeria. Nigerian football fans are very, very devoted…and entertaining. Watch any football match in which Naija is playing and take a look at our fans! We always have a drummer and a lone trumpet playing ‘He’s a Miracle Working GOD’ and they are painted green and white! Yes, indeed we are interesting fans. The problem comes when we get…erm…fanatical. Here are a couple of scenarios.
There’s a small crowd at a football viewing centre/beer parlour and there’s a match between Naija and another country. Everyone stares intently at the screen as Osaze Odemwingie dribbles the ball. Then, a player charges and hits him and he goes down, apparently injured. He rolls on the ground, groaning in pain. Suddenly, one of the viewers in the beer parlour stands up abruptly and points at the screen.
‘The devil is a liar!! Get up! I say get up! In Jesus’ Name, rise up from the ground! The devil is a liar! Holy Ghost…’“ FIRE!!!” the rest of the crowd responds!
Another scenario. Another viewing centre. Nigeria plays another country and the score is 1-nil, in favour of the other team. The mood is somber all around: people are not happy. Suddenly, Nigeria equalizes! Oh, the shouts and shrieks of joy! Then on one table, a viewer grasps the hands of the persons to his left and right and says…
‘Oh Father, You Whom has started a good work in this match shall perfect and finish it, in Jesus’ Name! We shall win, in Jesus’ Name! ‘
‘AMEN!!” they answer.
“Oh Father, may we score another goal and walk away with the trophy, in Jesus’ Name”
Then we have those who have had ‘prophetic’ revelations about how Naija will win World Cups, CAF cups and such claiming that GOD Himself revealed in that respect. We have people saying “ Oh yes, the LORD spoke to me and said it shall be well with Nigeria. We shall walk away with the trophy!”
“But”, the interviewer responds, “Nigeria just got disqualified from the semi finals and the other country won and moved up to finals!”
“No problem! The LORD shall cause the referee to recall the results and Nigeria shall go ahead while the other country gets disqualified. The LORD has revealed it!!”, the ‘prophet’ says with all certainty!
I also heard of a fight that erupted between a football fan and an MJ fan when the football fan claimed Cristiano Ronaldo is more popular than the late MJ! Of course, slaps followed and fracas ensued! Please, is that not the height of foolishness? Some football fans actually do night vigil and prayer sessions for footie victories! Let’s not even go into burning of PHCN Offices because of power outage during a game (although…hmmm) and looting of provision stores for drinks after a victory to celebrate.
Is it just me or is something really wrong here? We can pray with sincerity to GOD…concerning football?!!? And even going as far as to claim that GOD spoke about it? I mean, GOD doesn’t have His hands full with war, famine and other issues…He just decided to make a detour and give a prophetic revelation about…Nigerian football? And we actually sit down and argue over footballer salaries and statistics? Has anyone ever received money from any of the footballers to make them argue so persuasively and vehemently?
If we would put as much energy into moving our country forward in other areas then maybe we wouldn’t find it necessary to get so ridiculous about football. Indeed, the only arena in which Nigerians are truly one nation is in football! We forget tribe and religion then and go ahead to cheer as one! Why can’t we put that energy and optimism into our relationships and our every day lives?
Please people, I’d like to suggest 2 things:
First, let’s try and forget our tribal and religious barriers and put our energy and optimism into making our lives, and therefore the country, better.
Secondly, STOP using GOD as a football boka and the name of Jesus as an incantation for positive football results!!