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Nigerian football and the sanctity of contracts

29 July 2015, 13:48 Tayo Fashesin

Generally speaking, a contract is a legally binding agreement that represents unison of the minds of the parties. Contracts in football are subject to the same principles of formation of contracts as it will apply in any other sphere of life. For a contract to be enforceable and binding the following must be present: Offer, Acceptance, Intention to create a contractual relationship and Consideration.

There are different types of contracts involving the game of football but the most predominant ones are:

1.     Professional Services Contract (which could be between a football club and either a player or a coach). The Professional Services Contract spells out the terms and conditions under which a Professional is signed to a football club. This type of contract is arguably the most common because of its very important nature.

2.     Endorsement Contract could be a huge cash flow for sport personalities (players and coaches) and even the team as a whole. Endorsements contracts grants the sponsors the right (license) to use the sport personality or team’s name, images or likeness in advertising the sponsor’s products and services.  

3.     Appearance Contract is another form of contract although it is not very common. The Appearance Contract is simply a contract where the sport personality gets remuneration purely for appearing at a public function as agreed.

The sanctity of these contracts especially the Professional Services Contracts cannot be over emphasised. The FIFA Regulations on Status and Transfer of Players in Article 13 clearly states:

“A contract between a professional and a club may only be terminated upon expiry of the term of the contract or by mutual agreement.”

Also the FIFA Regulations further states that the contracts maybe terminated where there is a ”just cause” or where there is a “sporting just cause”. For instance, Super Eagles World Cup sensation Babatunde Michael recently terminated his contract with his Ukrainian Club, Volyn Lutsk over unpaid salaries; it was accepted as a “just cause”.  Also the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) terminated the contract of former coach, Stephen Keshi after it was found out by a disciplinary committee that “he lacked the required commitment to achieve the NFF’s objectives as set out in his employment contract”.  It was discovered that the Coach had applied for the coaching job of another team only a few months after his contract was renewed, in this regard, the NFF could be justified under “just cause”.

Also Read: Aigbogun: Title within touching distance

If neither of these happens and a party goes ahead to unilaterally terminate the contract, Article 17 of the FIFA Regulations on Status and Transfer of Players spells out the consequences of doing such.

However, there have been incidences of disregard for the contract terms amongst players mainly those playing in the Nigerian Leagues. This trend is quite worrisome. There is the case of Kunle Odunlami, a Sunshine Stars defender who abandoned his team while on their way to honour a league game at Enugu Rangers. It was reported that he went for trials with another team abroad. Also former Super Eagles midfielder, Sani Kaita was recently declared missing by his team, FC Ifeanyi Ubah. The team claims that they had not heard from him since 1st of July after a league match. It should be noted that he was only 3 months into a 3 year contract he has with the team when he was reported to have absconded.

These entire actions amount to serious breach of contract and it should be discouraged; stiffer penalties should be meted out to those guilty of culpable breach of a contractual obligation. For the development of Nigerian football, all the relevant stakeholders must strive to uphold the sacred doctrines of contractual obligations.

- MyNews24

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