Common sense campaigner, Senator Murray Bruce caused a Twitter storm as he suggested that the Super Eagles’ World Cup kit could have been produced in Aba to help grow the Nigerian economy. His suggestion, which appeared like criticism to some, has been called intelligent, dumb and possible, in an outburst of opinion mostly reflecting political affiliations. The Senator’s claim comes with concerns as to if he understands how the economics of World Cup Kits works or if many understood what he was saying.

In response to reports of the massive sales of the Nigerian Jersey which sold out 3 million pieces in few minutes, the Senator said

“We can’t grow our economy from abroad. We can only grow if we patronise our own goods. @NGSuperEagles could’ve been made in Aba.

“it is a win/win situation. If we persuaded @Nike to manufacture our team’s jerseys in Aba instead of Asia, we would all have benefited. Nike would make money from marketing, the Nigerian economy makes money from products made in Aba and our youths get jobs even if temporary.”

Good Idea or Good Deal?

The main criticism of Bruce’s suggestion came from those who accused the Senator of not knowing that the Nigerian Football Federation will not pay for the goods but instead stands to earn 4.25 million dollars, in the space of three years, from the deal.

Kit deals basically involve a fashion company providing sportswear for a team and paying to be allowed to sell to fans and place AD on the clothing. Its worth differs, like many other businesses.

While Senegal’s contract with Puma was for 2.8 million dollars in 4 years, England’s Kit deal with Nike is estimated, by Forbes, to be 530 million dollars for 14 years.

In December 2017, Nigeria’s Minister for Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung, said the country needed 3 billion Naira to participate in the 2018 World Cup. He explained that of the 3 billion, FIFA has provided 900 million, while 600 million will come from sponsors. The Nike deal brings in over a billion Naira but it is not for the World Cup alone. 6.4 billion Naira is the budget for football in 2018 which is just one of the three years. In the almost three years span of the contract, Nigeria would have spent about 13 billion on football. The Nike deal would have provided 10% of this amount. This, for a single sponsor, may seem good enough considering that there are other sponsors, but that a major brand like Coca-Cola is throwing in 4 million dollars in a space of 5 years (less than 300 million Naira) while others like Nigerian Breweries are undisclosed, may be point for the argument that Nigeria could have pushed Nike harder especially now that it sold 90 billion Naira (about 250 million dollars) in few minutes.

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According to French manufacturer, Ultra Petita, World Cup shirts are made for 4 pounds by the likes of Nike in Indonesia.

On the other hand, a lot of money go into the promotion, networking and market that leads to the sales of 3 million pieces of anything. Big brands like Nike can reach this feat because of years of experience and network which may be unavailable to local producers.

This is perhaps why there are few brands kitting players the world over. The 32 countries in the 2018 World Cup will be kitted by just 9 brands. Addidas has 12 countries, Nike has 10, Puma has 4, New Balance has 2. Meanwhile, Errea, Hummel, Umbro, and Uhlsport will sponsor a country each.

Aside from Germany which is sponsored by Adidas and Denmark which is sponsored by Hummel, the other 30 countries participating are kitted by companies in other countries. England is kitted by Nike despite Umbro being an English company.

But Senator Bruce did not suggest that a Nigerian company kits the Eagles as is widely understood. He suggested that at least the production of these kits be done in Nigeria by the International brand. This also has a problem.

Nigeria does not have the material

Football kits are made from polyester materials because polyester fibres can withstand strong and repetitive movement.

Nigeria has a shortage of this as confirmed by the Director-General, Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association, Mr. Hamma Kwajaffa, who explained that it is made from coal, air, water and petroleum and often imported.

In January 2017, it was reported that the scarcity of polyester fibres was a threat to Nigerian textile industry.

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Nike in the past produced its Kit in Indonesia where polyester fibres are cheaper and very available. Nike has 40 factories with almost 200,000 persons working for it in Indonesia.

Consequently, cost of production can be as low as 4 pounds (less than 2,000 Naira) in Indonesia. This would make it super difficult to relocate to Nigeria for the production of the Kit.

What about the Fakes?

As Nike seem unable to meet demand, local businessmen took advantage of the situation and started producing fakes. But marketers of these black market jerseys told CNN in Lagos that they get their supply from Thailand.

These fakes, after not proving the kits can be made in Nigeria, may also be the reason why the NFF cannot get a better deal

“The people who will criticise the NFF for not getting a so-called big sponsorship kit deal are the same ones who will undermine our ability to do so by buying the counterfeit jerseys,” NFF’s Shehu Dikko said in an interview with ESPN.

Fakes do not also have to keep to FIFA’s strident instructions. The world governing body has a 96-page document all about regulations for production of kits, from sizes of everything to colour restrictions and extremely specific measurements which even major brands with decades of experience still complain about.

A solid Kit – ‘Paying’ for quality?

The Super Eagle’s World Cup kit has been described, by CNN, as the most anticipated kit among 32 countries. Quartz says it is a global hit, while the UK Independent described it as the nicest kit at this year’s World Cup and destined to be worn at Boiler Room sessions from now until 2046. Daily Mirror ranks the Eagle’s kit as the very best from the 20 countries released initially.

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With a recoloured badge in honour of Nigeria’s dream team at the 2016 Olympic, which was the first African team to win gold in soccer, the kit pays homage to some of Nigeria’s best moments in football. The away jersey is also reminiscent of Nigeria’s jerseys at the 1994 World Cup when the country made its first-ever appearance at the tournament.

The quality of the kit appears to be a palliative to the possibility that Nigeria could have gotten more money from the deal. More consoling, though ironically, is the fact that the Nation is plagued with massive piracy and lack of the needed materials for this specific job. Facts that may have been considerations as the NFF officials negotiated its first direct deal with a major brand having cut off middlemen.

For the very first time, the Nigerian team will be going into a World Cup with no rumours of sponsorship and wage issues.

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