Document Type


Publication Date

November 2014


Nigerian football has achieved a long line of success at both continental and global levels. A significant part of that has occurred through its local clubs and players. However, while player labour has sustained Nigerian football in many ways, the increasing capital interests of administrators have created a situation of marginalization and domination, which not only leads to player flight but also has threatened the sustainability of the league itself. Using critical theory, this paper exposes the structure of power, interests, and marginalization that define local football in Nigeria today. In so doing, it also identifies player resistance in a struggle for emancipation. Administrators have used several instruments to affirm power including withholding of wages and bonuses and denial of free agency. In the struggle for emancipation, players have chosen strikes, petitions, violence, and flight. Ultimately, the paper argues that adoption of a discursive public sphere as advanced by Habermas may place the conflict on a trajectory of fairness and repair in order to emancipate players from the current unsustainable situation.