LaLiga, the organising body that operates the football league structure in Spain, has established a partnership with the Nigerian National Professional Football League (NPFL) as part of a move to strengthen its sporting, cultural and business ties with the African country.
LaLiga president Javier Tebas has finalised a five-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with representatives from the country’s top-tier NPFL competition. Also in attendance at the meeting was Amaju Pinnick, president of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF); Mallam Shehu Dikko, chair of the League Management Company (LMC); Solomon Dalung, Nigeria’s Youth and Sports Minister; and Alfonso Barnuevo Sebastian de Erice, the Spanish ambassador to Nigeria.
The MoU sets out plans for LaLiga to share experiences with the NPFL, as well as provide technical assistance to the LMC in the administration of the league. “We are here not only to teach but to share experience, and we are sure we can also learn from the NPFL,” Tebas said.
“Football is not only a commercial issue, but also an example of values especially for the youth in any country, and LaLiga would like to help develop these values for the youth of Nigeria. We want to use the names of our stars to transmit the values of the sport. We will also offer our expertise not only to football but to the Nigerian government.”
The Nigerian government has committed itself to the relationship by stating that it will support footballing authorities in the country with the development projects and initiatives set out under the MoU.
Dalung added: “The league in Nigeria is a major tool for social cohesion. Government is committed to putting in place and enabling administrative and legal frameworks for international business partnerships. It is of significance that the NPFL and LaLiga are entering into an understanding that will improve the business aspects of the league in Nigeria. Such areas will boost the earnings of football, which will in turn impact positively on the welfare of the players while creating new frontiers for business.”
Barnuevo said the partnership will strengthen the strong cultural and trade ties with Nigeria, adding that Spain is currently the third biggest importer of Nigeria’s crude oil.
LMC chair Dikko also said: “Our objective is to be able to move with the times. We need to get our league to conform to international standards and best practices. LaLiga is one of the best leagues in the world. They have some of the richest clubs in the world, and they have a system which is very attractive to us. The structure and management of their clubs is fantastic as well as the way the government and the clubs relate to each other.
“They also have legislation from the government to ensure that the league is developed. We need to learn how they do that.”