The list of groundbreaking feats of the new Nigeria Football Federation administration climbed on Wednesday as NFF President Amaju Pinnick glowed at the 55th Annual General Conference of the Nigeria Bar Association in Abuja.
Presenting a paper on “Providing Legal Support for the Talent –Based Industry: Special Focus on Sports,” Pinnick regaled the body of learned men and women with facts and details of the largest contracts ever signed in sports, and admonished the legal luminaries to start thinking hard about getting involved in the money –spangled sports industry.
“A lot needs to be done in changing the mindset of lawyers in Nigeria towards the enormous responsibilities and benefits that abound in sports world and indeed the talent –based industries.
“All sports federations need the services of lawyers in almost all that they do to forestall unnecessary conflicts, and when conflicts arise, the best means towards resolution of such conflicts.
“I will urge the NBA to first of all, immediately create a section on sports, entertainment and leisure, like you have for other areas of law. We should take more than passing interest in football (nay, sports) beyond supporting a particular club or sports, to actually attending events and sports law programs as it may relate to specific sports.”
Reeling out a list of the 113 largest sports contracts in the world, Pinnick regretted that not a single Nigerian lawyer was involved in drafting any of those contracts.
Delving briefly into conflict resolution mechanisms of the NFF, FIFA and the IOC, and the role of the Court of Arbitration for Sports, Pinnick added, to sustained applause by the erudite jurists inside the auditorium of the International Conference Centre: “The scope of sports indeed is one that creates ample opportunity for lawyers to thrive in the area of representation of sportsmen and women. It should be noted that because of the peculiarity and specificity of sports especially football, conflicts arising out of football do not go to regular courts, but resort to arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution mechanism or machineries established by the sports institution.”