Nigerian Law The Sport Axis



On 28th July 2020, the Sports Industry Working Group (SIWG) comprising the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports (“the Ministry”), and critical sector stakeholders presented the National Sports Industry Policy (NSIP) draft document virtually to the Minister for Sports and Youth Development, Mr. Sunday Dare.[1] This development is regarded as an important product of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Ministry and NESG on 17th December 2020.

The NSIP is aimed at leveraging Nigeria’s remarkable sporting talent, passion, interest and excellence to advance and navigate diplomatic relations, and more importantly, generate employment, create jobs, increase government revenue, and bolster the economy. The NSIP also identifies four (4) key trigger factors essential to realizing these aims – Infrastructure, Incentives, Investment and Policy (popularly christened the 3 ‘I’s & 1 ‘P’).

Following the presentation of the draft NSIP, the much-talked-about paradigm shift in the sporting mindset from mere recreation to an emergent major business sector of the economy appears to have found a suitable takeoff tarmac.

The following are key highlights of the Draft NSIP.

Background to the Development of the 2020 National Sports Industry Policy

The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)[2] stands as a major pillar for the socio-economic basis of the NSIP. More emphatically, seven (7) of the seventeen (17) goals have been identified as attainable through sports; including inclusive and sustainable economic growth and Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, both of which are of huge relevance in this context.

To further accentuate the immense and hugely untapped economic potentials of sports in Nigeria, the 2012 Study of the Contribution of Sport to Economic Growth and Employment in the European Union (EU)[3] highlighted sport as being both an important economic sector and a labour-intensive growth industry. Sport alone accounted for an Overall Gross Value Added figure of 294.36 billion Euros (2.98%) in the European economy for 2012. The recreational, cultural and sporting services sector had the highest contribution, followed by education services, and hotel and restaurant services, respectively. Also, sport-related employment accounted for 4.46 million employees in the EU. Despite this strong economic footing, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) neither classifies Sports as an Economic Sector nor is Sports recognised as a contributor to the economy. There is also a general perception at all levels that Sports is merely participatory rather than economic.

This apparently prompted the invocation of the Review Mechanism recommended in the 2009 National Sports Policy to review the 2009 policy document and release the draft 2018 National Sports Policy. The Sports Industrialization Agenda was born. Between August 2017 and October 2019, the NESG convened several public/private sector engagement sessions on the repositioning of the Nigerian sports industry. Flowing from these, the parturition of the NSIP came to the fore and represents the outcome of these preceding efforts and the changing societal mindset.

History of Sports in Nigeria

The NSIP traces the historical antecedence of sports in Nigeria by focusing solely on Nigeria’s hosting and participation in Continental and International Competitions (rather than on sports and recreation generally). It carries out this historical tracing from the pre-independence era, through 1960-1980, 1981-2000 and 2001 till date.

Objectives of the Sports Policy

The NSIP contains a statement of eleven (11) objectives, which include:

  1. To promote national unity.
  2. To ensure good governance, effective regulation and efficient administration of sport in Nigeria;
  3. To improve sporting officiating and participation to world class standards;
  4. Institution and maintenance of efficient sport-specific dispute resolution mechanisms;
  5. To promote Public/private sector engagement to engrave sports as an important driver and contributor to the national economy;
  6. To ensure utilisation of ICT.

Obligations of the Three Tiers of Government and Other Stakeholders

This segment of the NSIP addresses the critical issue of the roles and obligations of each tier of government in actualizing the objectives highlighted in the draft. Noteworthily, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) does not specifically situate “Sports” under either the Exclusive or Concurrent Legislative List of Powers,[4] making it seem that the powers to make laws on the subject matter of Sports is a Residual one – one lying within the jurisdiction of the local government authorities.

However, the NSIP provides a viable keyhole pending the amendment of the 1999 Constitution. The entirety of Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution focuses on political, economic and social objectives that relate to sports. For instance, as a political objective, the encouragement of national integration would touch on the legal aspect of sports that deals with freedom from or prohibition of discrimination along several classes or lines. As an economic objective, the promotion of national prosperity and an efficient economy would certainly translate into the legal facet of sports that govern labour, commerce, taxation, dispute resolution and corporate governance standards. Also, as a social objective, the promotion of sports development in the areas of recreation and leisure aligns with the legal aspect of sports with respect to the provision of adequate facilities for leisure, medical and health purposes.

The NSIP goes ahead to specifically highlight a considerable number of roles for each tier of government and the private sector, as well as policy recommendations, action points and recommendations. Interestingly, one of the recommendations include the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to specifically include sports as a subject matter deserving of legislative competence across all tiers of government, and the update of tax legislations to give effect to proposed tax reliefs and incentives for sports stakeholders and participants.

Policy Thrust Areas

The NSIP identifies the following Policy Thrust Areas:

  • (National Sports) Federations and Athletes’ Development
  • Sports and Education
  • Sports and Health
  • Sports Capacity Development and Training
  • Sports for Inclusivity and Social Development in the Community
  • Sports Facilities and Infrastructure
  • Sports for Economic Development
  • Sports, Legislative Environment and International Relations
  • Funding, Finance and Investment in Sports
  • Sports and the Digital Economy

The NSIP emphasizes the lingering problems of adequate and sustainable funding of National Sports Federation (NSF) which is of course, a key driver of the objectives of the policy draft. Furthermore, the commitment to a synergy between ICT and digital technology, and sports will be instrumental to improving existing sporting standards, especially in two crucial areas that have tainted the sporting integrity of the Nigerian state overtime – doping and football age eligibility factors. Moreover, the absence of a sports-specific legal framework for the protection of commercial and intellectual property rights which has given rise to the proliferation of counterfeiting, trademark infringement and the demeaning broadcasting rights[5] have all been identified and marked for repairs under the NSIP.

Implementation, Monitoring, Evaluation and Review (I, M and E&R)

The saddle of Implementation of the ten (10) Policy Thrust Areas is placed on the Sports Industry Working Group (SIWG). The responsibility of Monitoring policy implementation levels will lie in government at all levels/tiers. The monitoring will be achieved by comprehensively developing and publishing a set of targets and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The Evaluation and Review will be actualized by the government developing the Sports Satellite National Accounts System Sports in close collaboration with the NBS.


The NSIP represents the boldest and most significant statement of intent from major stakeholders in the sports industry to take sports to the next level by forging a much-needed recreational, cultural (social) and economic reputation for the sector. The policy document also contains so much substance and practical significance that reflects the well-considered wide range of stakeholders’ and contributors’ views pooled together to birth it.

To be fair, the SIWG and the NESG must be commended for the painstaking work that went into this project since the tail end of 2017. Meanwhile, members of the SIWG must jointly and severally remind one another that it would require even greater political will and better dedication to achieve the several policy recommendations proffered in the NSIP. With this policy document though, hopes of a very vibrant sports industry are at an all-time high.

Realistically meanwhile, attention must be shifted from the year 2030 in the implementation of the various policy recommendations in the NSIP. Only by gradual, steady and consistent governmental efforts, tenure after tenure, will all thrust areas of the NSIP be adequately addressed.


For further information on this article and area of law, please contact

Olukolade Ehinmosan at: S. P. A. Ajibade & Co., Lagos by

telephone (+234 1 472 9890), fax (+234 1 4605092) mobile

(234.810.370.8623) or email

[1]  Accessible here: < LAYOUT%20INNER_compressed%20%281%29%20%282%29.pdf>, last accessed on 27th August 2020 at 1:12 pm.

[2]  In September 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are seventeen (17) and include No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well Being, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Partnerships to Achieve the Goal, and eleven others; <>, accessed on 27th August 2020 at 1:30 pm.

[3] Study on the Contribution of Sport to Economic Growth and Employment in the EU, a Study commissioned by the European Commission, Directorate-General Education and Culture, Final Report November 2012 <> accessed 27th August 2020 at 1:33 pm.

[4] 2nd Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (supra).

[5] Item 5.7.6 (d), page 92 of the NSIP contains a recommendation to review the existing National Broadcasting Corporation’s (NBC) Broadcast Code to enhance the media’s contribution to sports as business and assist in combating ambush marketing and piracy of sports content (emphasis mine). To accentuate this menace in sports broadcast and related intellectual property law issues as a global threat, Football Broadcasters predict that TV rights value would nosedive post covid-19 (<>). Also, the advent of online video streaming has seen the springing up of various platforms that illegally (without explicit permission from the sporting league or organization possessing broadcasting rights) stream sporting events live, especially football matches.

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