What’s the worth of a footballer's life?

Emma Ogoli
The death last week of Ocean Boys’ defender, Emma Ogoli raised a lot of questions concerning the Nigerian League.

First I am not one to blame poor medical conditions in the League for the death of Ogoli because when death comes it will surely come and very little or nothing can be done to stop it.

Yes the people that never see anything good in the Nigerian League will talk about poor medical services, some will even say the club did not have a doctor (I do not think that is true) while others will say that death may have been averted if the incident occurred in another clime.

Then I will ask about the late Cameroonian, Mark Vivien Foe who died in a FIFA organised football match.

I will also ask about the Spanish player who passed on last season after suffering heart condition.

So, not to praise the quality of the Nigerian League’s medical services, I am only saying that death could have occurred anywhere.

Now we have got that off our chests, the main reason for discussing this issue today is to ask, what do we do when the inevitable occurs?

Now Ogoli is dead, just like the captain of Bayelsa United died a few hours after they won the League two years ago but the question that needs to be answered is where is the insurance for these players?

I heard a statement credited to the chairman of the Nigeria Premier League, Davidson Owumi a few days ago talking about insurance for players who die in League service and those who are permanently injured.

Owumi said, for players who die, their families will get one million naira, (about $6500) while permanent disability will get five hundred thousand naira (about $3250).

My question now is simply- Is this what a Nigerian footballer’s life is worth?

Is this what the whole IGI Insurance package of the League is about?

Then it is a big shame that a group as big as IGI will devalue the life of a Nigerian footballer so much.

Or is it that the NPL negotiators did the devaluation?

I believe this shame must be probed.

So the family of Emmanuel Ogoli get just one million naira?

Emma Ogoli is a footballer with the Nigeria Premier League side, Ocean Boys and the fact that Ocean Boys play in the League helped the NPL to get an over two billion naira MTN sponsorship deal.

For the same reason that Ocean Boys play in the League (with Ogoli in their team) the NPL got deals with Total Promotions (Supersport), IGI, Marine Medical Services, Glaxo Smithkline and others we may not even know so somebody must start asking questions and I have thrown the first one- Is the value of a Nigerian League footballer’s life just one million naira?

Surely we can do better than that, can’t we?

I think as much as we insist the NPL gets a bigger insurance package for League club players, they should insist that the same players are paid their dues by their clubs.

I knew Ogoli from his time at Bayelsa United so we are sure he has not received any sign on fees in two seasons at least.

Now he has joined City neighbours, Ocean Boys who have certainly not paid him sign on fees.

Now I know that for a club like Bayelsa United and Ocean Boys, the least he would have received as sign on fees would have been two million naira per season.

So it may not be out of place to say both Ogoli and his family are being owed six million naira (about $39,000) and do we not agree that it is a shame that he was deprived of enjoying that money in his life time?

That is the biggest task the NPL has ahead of them and it is ensuring that League clubs pay their players when it is due.

It does not matter now if Ogoli’s family is given a hundred million naira. What matters is that in his life time he lived in penury but that should not be so.

The NPL must sort out the mess that is paying players their salaries, sign on fees and match bonuses as well as the mess that is the shameful insurance package offered by IGI who must be ashamed of themselves for coming out with that kind of package.

The NPL representatives who accepted that kind of deal off IGI must also come out and apologise for that slight on Nigerian League footballers who have just been told that their lives mean nothing.

According to the NPL, the insurance package covers just players and six officials but we know clubs have as much as 12 officials who travel along Nigerian roads for League games. So what happens when the inevitable occurs?
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