The English Premier League in its current form began in 1992.
Video clips and newspaper pictures before that time, revealled that there were serious issues with the football pitches (quite muddy), the jerseys (too short, too long, too big) and all that.
But the moment it was professionally re-organised, and had its previous name, Football League First Division changed to the English Premier League (EPL), it now has risen to become the envy and standard for the rest of the world.
Though many football lovers and pundits today pay glorious tributes to the success story of the premiership, discussions on how the EPL has evolved over the years have been on a low key.
The unsung hero, partner and backbone to the EPL success story can be attributed to the commitment showed by the government.
In 1991, the government intervened and saw football as a lucrative venture and therefore, injected £200 million to develop the league which brought about massive changes which resulted in creating the platform for what they have today.
The money was used to upgrade the stadia which then attracted big sponsorship packages and that introduced the commercialisation of their football leading to big TV stations like Sky sports paying huge sums to get the television rights to telecast it domestically and worldwide.
Today, that investment of £200 million earns the government over £3billion in taxes and other businesses involved with football, which has become a mainstay of their economy.
In 2012, the government of Malta handed over €9 million to clubs to enable them to build and improve football facilities to include synthetic pitches for 19 more football clubs after 33 had benefitted from such project since 2008.
In 2013, the Colombian government set aside $218 million exclusively for investment in infrastructure development and training.
The local and regional governments invested $150 million in infrastructure and set aside a $22million to prepare local competitors.
Investment in football facilities in Colombia has predominantly been made with state or public capital, as most teams do not have sufficient financial capacity to build their own facilities.
The Scottish Government was proud to sponsor the Scottish Communities League Cup (now Scottish League Cup) to the tune of £1.7 million in the 2012-2013 season.
The Scottish Government invested in the Scottish Communities League Cup to support the delivery of the tournament and supporting football clubs in villages, towns and cities across Scotland.
Not long ago, the Ireland Government unburdened themselves with €7.4 million for a range of grassroots and youth development projects across the sporting spectrum.
The basic thrust of the funding push is to increase sports participation throughout Ireland. This includes coach development, club support, underage programmes etc.
German government in the last decade, also invested almost $1 billion in its youth programs, with academies run by professional teams and training centers overseen by the national soccer association, the Deutscher Fussball Bund, or D.F.B. The programs testified to the long-term strategic thinking and to the considerable resources that have driven Germany’s rise to renewed prominence at the expense of a struggling continent.
Croatia’s first female president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic went to Russia to cheer her national football team up at the FIFA World Cup to demonstrate that she is really a football fan like everyone else.
According to her, the visit was to showcase that she is a football fan. “I wanted to support the team among other fans in the stands. I put on a shirt with national symbols, which usually wouldn’t have been accepted as an outfit,” the Russian website Sportbox quoted her as saying.
She raised some eyebrows in Croatia by celebrating in the players’ locker room after their win against Russia in the knockout stage. However, world media praised her show of emotion following the final game against France, when she embraced and kissed every single player of both teams after hugging French President Emmanuel Macron.
On 28 March, 2019 – government representatives of Croatia met with the Croatian Football Federation President, Davor Šuker with a plan of building a new 25-30,000 capacity stadium in Blato, a suburb of Zagreb.
The Hungarian government is financially supporting the development of soccer by building new stadia across the country. Besides professional soccer, there is a huge amount of money spent on junior teams and the training of new generation of soccer players as well. This did not stop at the borders of Hungary: construction of stadiums and soccer academies have started in the past few years in neighboring countries in territories where ethnic Hungarians live. Hungary has spent several billions of forints on these academies across the border since then.
Some 16 billion Hungarian forints (approximately €49.5 million) from taxpayer funds were directed to territories where ethnic Hungarians who live in Slovakia, Romania (Transylvania) and Serbia (Vojvodina) will benefit.
The money was channeled through the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ, Magyar Labdarúgó Szövetség) and the Bethlen Gábor Fund (BGA), a state instrument of financial aid to ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries. The money, according to documents acquired by Atlatszo, was used to build four stadiums, more than fifteen soccer fields, and four additional buildings.
Summing it up, Africa is a relatively poor continent which lacks facilities and resources and this makes it difficult grooming players and quality coaches. Good players are not always born with the talent; some have to be nurtured and polished to get the skill that will propel them to greater heights.
While political leaders elsewhere are seriously thinking about how to get the game developed, our leaders pay little or no attention to sports forgetting that sports is a multi-million dollar sector which can generate more revenue for their countries. Football only comes up in their discussion when there is a tournament, which they know will be an avenue for them to secure visas for their family and friends to travel abroad in the name of the team.
Several Governments on the continent have failed to invest adequately in the game and this problem always reflects in performances showcase at major tournaments.
This is the major reason no African country has managed a semi-final appearance in the history of the World Cup, not even Ghana, tagged Brazilians of African football.