By Our Correspondent
Sam Sodje, former Super Eagles defender, has described the denigration of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) by fellow former International, Sistine Jay Jay Okocha as rather unfortunate.
Okocha, a former Bolton Wanderers midfielder, was quoted as saying he preferred to watch the English Premier League matches to those of NPFL, which standard, he said, needed upgrade to attract quality sponsors.
“I don’t think I’d watch the Nigerian League if there is a Premier League match on television, that is if I am being honest, because the Premier League is more attractive.
“We need to go back to the drawing board and give ourselves time and put something together that will make our leagues attractive,” Okocha declared during the English Premier League trophy tour in Nairobi, Kenya.
But responding to the degrading remarks from someone who was at a time the chairman of the Football Association, Delta State, the former Reading and Porthmouth FCs player, Sodje, in a statement on Monday, warned his fellow ex-professionals to watch what they say about the NPFL.
He called on Okocha to further make clarification on his remarks so that the efforts of “some of us toward promoting the local league will seriously be affected especially, in the areas of attracting the business sector into participating in the development of the sports sector.”
Sodje said: “I read online the comments allegedly made by Okocha on the quality of the NPFL with total shock and anger.
“Assuming these comments are actually made and proven to be true, it just goes to show the need to properly advise some of our distinguished ex-professionals to watch what they say about our local game, general sports sector and to ensure that everyone works together toward building a more sustainable, rewarding and progressive sports sector in Nigeria.
“The European sports sector that we now worship did not come to be without the efforts of the individuals and stakeholders getting solidly involved in the development and building of the sector.
“With due respect to Okocha, whose exploits during his football playing days are widely acknowledged especially in Nigeria, there is an urgent need for him to give further a proper clarification regarding the said comments because without such proper clarification, the efforts of some of us toward promoting the local league will seriously be affected especially, in the areas of attracting the business sector into participating in the development of the sports sector.
“I do not want to get into an unnecessary debate with Okocha or any other person on this issue, but only to advise that there is the need for all of us to work together, be focused on ensuring that we put everything in place toward the development of our local league and the sports sector in general so as to ensure that this sector can come up to a level of competing favorably with other countries that some of us, especially, those in privileged positions, are now addicted to watching week in and week out.
“We must, therefore, try all that we can to avoid comments that will have negative effects on our league and the positive and real efforts of some of us who are engaged in promoting our sports sector.
“I come in peace and with very true sporting regards.”