Football fanship is a means of social bonding that defies ethnic and religious divides among Nigerians. On weekends, avid football fans who profess loyalty to European clubs would do anything to avoid missing their favourite teams’ matches.
Europe is the dream destination for footballers and managers who aspire to perform at the highest level. Little wonder that European teams, particularly those in the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A, attract the best talents and boast the largest number of supporters from across the world, including Nigeria.
Besides the thrill of exciting matches, many fans identify with these teams for various reasons. For some, support for a countryman plying his trade with a team translates to support for the whole team. Some others support a team out of love for a manager, while others generally develop a fondness for a club from recurrent viewing of their matches.
While those who barely watch football wonder why grown men and women display loyalty to teams and players who barely recognize them, football fans are usually unfazed by criticisms. For them, identifying with a football team brings a sense of belonging among football communities either online or offline. In some instances, they identify with feeling a sense of pride associated with a winning team.
The ever-expanding football fandom in Nigeria would have been impossible without MultiChoice Nigeria. The company bridged the distance barrier that would have made access to European football an exclusive privilege of the wealthy by bringing these matches to the screens of many Nigerians at an affordable rate.
Since its entrance into the broadcasting space in Nigeria in 1993, the company has invested billions of naira in procuring broadcasting rights for its flagship sports channel, SuperSport, available on DStv and GOtv. It has also employed football experts, analysts, and veteran footballers to provide match analysis and predictions for major leagues and competitions.
As a result, a regular subscriber on GOtv Max can access all matches from top leagues such as La Liga, Serie A, and Europa League while still being able to access a few matches from the Premier League and the Champions League for just N4, 125. As such, football lovers, regardless of their socio-economic class, can watch their favourite teams’ matches.
And this phenomenon has brought various dynamics of socio-economic benefits for the country. Just as recently, MultiChoice Nigeria hosted a football watch party for fans to share matchday moments together. Such avenues foster togetherness among Nigerians and boost trade activities among vendors.
Similarly, football fanship has contributed its fair share to employment opportunities. There’s hardly a Nigerian community, no matter how small, that doesn’t have a football viewing centre. These centres are run by youth and adults who make good living for themselves by showing premium football matches for fans, who either cannot afford the higher subscription packages, or enjoy the football banter that such centres provide.
As more people show interest in football, it has also birthed sports programmes on broadcast media, sports-focused newspapers, blogs, social media influencers, podcasts among others. Individuals make their source of livelihood from offering these services.
One cannot also ignore the rise of competitions and trivia to reward football fans. The Fantasy Premier League game created by the English Premier League is popular among young Nigerians who use the platform to test their football management skill. Some brands have tapped into this frenzy and created means to reward top performing players.
In the same vein, Nigeria has a teeming population of youngsters, both male and female. MultiChoice has enabled them to watch world-class footballers that can inspire them to aim for a glorious career. Also, as more Nigerians players ply their trade in Europe, these youngsters have homegrown talents to look up to.
Nigeria has untapped potential in sports. With the commitment of companies like MultiChoice, these potentials can be transformed into socio-economic advantage.