More details have emerged on how Nigeria’s friendly match against Atletico Madrid was made possible.
A lot of football fans were not optimistic the newly-crowned Europa League champions would honour the tie. And the fears heightened after Super Eagles B coach, Salisu Yusuf, named 16 home-based players for the encounter.
Atletico, however, unveiled their squad for the friendly game and included names like Fernando Torres, Jan Oblak and Juanfran, with Antoine Griezmann, Diego Costa and other 2018 FIFA World Cup-bound players the only exemptions.
Their commitment to the game was not out of choice, but rather an obligation to LaLiga. The friendly game was an initiative from the partnership between LaLiga and the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
LaLiga have been working to improve their ties with Nigeria, to make the league very popular in the country.
The game didn’t cost the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the League Management Company (LMC) a dime.
“We are not paying Atletico a dime. That’s the beauty of what Dikko is doing at the LMC. Mamelodi Sundowns (of South Africa) are paying Barcelona about $4 million for a friendly but we are not paying anything,” NFF boss Amaju Pinnick explained on a breakfast show on Channels Television.
“It’s an arrangement that the LMC had with La Liga a couple of years back. You know La Liga have an office here, they employ Nigerians and also pay their taxes here.”