This week, my colleagues and I participated on a sweepstake where we each contributed money and picked a team that is participating at Africa Cup Of nations. The winner will donate collected money to one of our child development projects either in Asia or Africa. Not a bad way of fundraising for Childreach International! (childreach.org.uk).
My lucky charms gave me Niger. I was very excited when I picked 'Dama gazelle,' a team from a one of the poorest countries on the planet. For those who have been following the Africa Cup of nations qualification, will remember the dramatic win against a well known Bafana Bafana and this lifted Niger to the Africa finals.
Niger's GDP according to World Bank (2010) is $723. Majority of its land is covered by the Sahara desert and it is ranked 186th out of 187th countries, according to United Nations (2011) Human Development Index (HDI). Majority of its people live in rural areas and have little access to education. 'Mena' the local Hausa name of the national team, made history by qualifying for continent's most prestigious tournament for the very first time.
Qualifying on itself was a task, but how about financing the team during the competition? Does the country have the capacity to send the dream team to the AFCON finals? Your guess is as right as mine; A big emphatic NO. The government of Niger could not support its team to the finals but did ask its citizen to contribute. Nigerien population was not asked in a referendum or given a choice, 10 CFA francs was added to each minute whenever one makes a call using a mobile. This is added burden to the nation where already making a phone call is unbearable. They were asked to get behind the team.
It is reported that FIFA spent over $122 million on the preliminary, inspections, workshops, and seminars during 2010 World Cup campaign. It is hard to understand how this amount was spent considering that South African government pumped in over $5billion during the 2010 World Cup. How was the money spent? FIFA executives have a reputation for flying first class and staying in five star hotels. I remember seeing a contingent of FIFA officials in Zurich in 2009 and was taken aback by amount of security and type of cars that were being used to ferry 'big people.'
According to FIFA, it gave member countries $250,000 each to participate in AFCON tournament. I am not advocating for 'hand outs' for countries like Niger but FIFA already has policy of supporting member countries during tournaments. Why can't they five sufficiently in proportion to what they make? How far can this $250,000 go in supporting countries like Niger? Can it pay players wages considering how much Rooney makes? Bearing in mind the development status of Niger, how far does this amount help players and their families?
Niger officials are quoted saying they want to raise their own money for their team. But does imposing taxes to citizens the right approach while FIFA splashes cash on allowances and travel?
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