The Qatar 2022 World Cup is already building, with just 45 days to the biggest global football festival draws near.
In search of its seventh World Cup appearance ticket, the Super Eagles were knocked out by bitter rivals Black Stars of Ghana in the final African qualifiers for the Mundial.
An early goal from Thomas Partey in Abuja was enough to secure the Ghanaians’ place in Qatar, as they beat Nigeria 1-1 on aggregate on the away goal rule.
William Troost-Ekong’s penalty was not enough to stop the Black Stars from recording a famous result on enemy territory, with aggrieved going berserk and wreaking havoc on facilities at the newly renovated Moshood Abiola National Stadium.
The failure is still very fresh in the hearts of millions of football-loving Nigerian fans who follow the Eagles passionately.
And while Nigerians continue to lament their non-qualification, there will be plenty of money on the line at the World Cup in Qatar.
While the focus for a lot of teams will be on lifting the iconic trophy and representing their nations well, there is definitely a tangible benefit for success on the pitch.
FIFA haven’t held back when it comes to prize money for World Cups in recent years, and 2022 is no different – with huge sums up for grabs.
The football body has allocated $440m in prize money for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
This is an increase of $40m compared to the 2018 tournament, while just $358m in prize money was on offer at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
While a very significant sum, FIFA have a revenue budget of $4.6bn in 2022, with broadcasting rights set to contribute $2.6bn alone in income.
With so much prize money on offer, every side will walk away from Qatar significantly richer.
With the country’s failure to qualify for the World Cup, the players and the Nigeria Football Federation will, sadly, be missing out on FIFA’s largesse, which runs into billions of naira.
As the key part of any successful team, players also benefit financially from featuring at a World Cup.
While base salaries differ between national teams and for different players, they do get a share of whatever prize money their team walks away with.
FIFA allows each team to decide what share players receive. For instance, Germany promised to give each of their players a near $400,000 bonus had they lifted the title on home soil in 2006.
In 2022, Australia has reportedly pledged to pay each of its players AU$226,000 with an extra $290,000 to be paid if they reach the knockout stages.
Other nations are likely to offer a bit more or less than this amount to their players, depending on each federation’s financial situation.
PUNCH Sports Extra takes a look at the cost implication of Nigeria missing out on the biggest and money-spinning football event.
Simply qualifying for the World Cup sees each team paid a $1.5m (N648m) participation fee. But once at the tournament, sides will make much larger sums by progressing through the knockout stages.
Teams who get knocked out from the group stage are entitled to $9m while those who reach the round of 16 get $13m.
So, if the Eagles were to exit the stage in Qatar in the group stage, they would have received an extra $9m (N3.8bn), meaning qualification and group stage ouster would have fetched the three-time African champions a total of $10.5m (N4.5bn).
For a football sector that runs cap in hand to the government for funding, this isn’t cheery news at all, as the World Cup money would have gone a long way in settling debts, owed players allowances and the unending financial crisis that has forever rocked the NFF.
An economist, Abiola Rasaq, said the opportunity cost for Nigeria not playing in Qatar went beyond the cash reward.
“It includes both the implicit and explicit cost,” Rasaq stated. “There are social and economic benefits of participating in such a global event, including opportunities for Nigerian brands to showcase their products to the global audience, as well as an opportunity for us to showcase our local talents, some of whom may be lucky to sign transformational deals for their careers.
“There are also social engagement benefits at the local level and opportunities for strengthening diplomatic relations at the international level.
“So, it’s really sad that Nigeria missed the 2022 World Cup, but we have to remain optimistic about our team and look forward to strong prospects in the continental African Cup of Nations and future World Cups.
Mutiu Adepoju, a member of the Super Eagles squads at the 1994, 1998 and 2022 World Cups lamented the Eagles’ failure to make their seventh World Cup appearance following the financial losses.
“Any cash inflow of that amount is supposed to be a good thing for Nigerian football development, but unfortunately, we are not playing at the World Cup and won’t enjoy the financial benefit,” Adepoju said.
Ifeanyi Udeze, who represented Nigeria at the 2022 World Cup, added, “Once you qualify for the World Cup, FIFA gives $9m for the group stage.
“It’s a pity Nigeria did not qualify for the World Cup and we missed such big money, it’s a lot of money. The money would have gone a long way, even if it is to organise grassroots football.
“I’m very sure that the players are not happy because they missed out on the money too, the federation. But our priority, for now, is to get our house to make sure we qualify for the next World Cup.”
Azubuike Egwuekwe, a former Eagles defender and member of the 2014 World Cup side, said over-dependence on overseas-based players cost Nigeria the 2022 World Cup ticket.
“It’s a big disappointment that Nigeria will not be at the World Cup in Qatar and thus miss out on the estimated N4.5bn qualification and group stage prize money, but the truth is that the Eagles did not take their qualifying games against Ghana seriously,” the former Warri Wolves captain said.
“I speak based on my experience. During our time in the national team, we had a couple of home-based players in the team that had not earned that kind of money in their careers with their clubs. We were very hungry to play and get to the World Cup, but today, almost all the players in the Eagles play in Europe, they are relaxed and the hunger for success was not there in our games against Ghana, that was what cost us the World Cup ticket.”
He advised that football authorities to focus more on the local leagues and fish out talented and hungry players willing and committed to wearing the national jersey.
“We should encourage our local league players because the league is going down. If late coach Stephen Keshi did not recognise local league players, perhaps nobody would have known me or the likes of Ruben Gabriel, Godfrey Oboabona, Ejike Uzoenyi and others. We have to encourage the local league players and mix them with the overseas-based players, then the team will be hungry to play.”
“I remember when I returned to play for Rivers United for a year, I saw a lot of talents in the Nigeria Professional Football League, but I was surprised that I did not see them in the qualifiers.”