Nigeria contract row: anatomy of a deal

By Debola AdebanjoBBC Sport Africa
Gernot Rohr
Rohr's current contract expires on 30 June

Nigeria's football authorities remain embroiled in an ongoing row over the renewal of the contract of the coach of the country's men's national team, Gernot Rohr.

Tensions have focused on where Rohr lives, but there are a number of other issues.

Though this has been going on for weeks, it seems no closer to resolution. Here we analyse what has been going on.

Tricky clause

The problem at the heart of the negotiations is where Rohr, who is based in France, lives.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is insisting that he move to Nigeria and be paid in Naira.

The NFF believes that his living in Europe has meant he has been slow to spot talent rising in the local leagues.

They think that as a result, the Nigeria team is shaped too much by players who play in European football.

Goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa of Nigeria Professional Football League side Heartland has been the solitary selection of a locally-based player for Rohr since he became coach in 2016.

But the German has always questioned the quality of players in Nigeria's domestic league.

"The best players for the national team are not in Nigeria," he said in a recent interview with football journalist Colin Udoh.

He has relied on trusted assistant coach Imama Amapakabo to scout for talented players in the league, and is known to scout for talent in Europe - indeed to the extent that he believes it would create a logistical difficulty if the "must live in Nigeria" clause was enforced.

But despite Rohr having a "right of first refusal" owing to the differences in opinions between him and his employers, there are indications that the German is willing to continue with his job.

Both parties are set to meet and finalise details once football resumes around the world, whenever that is.

Deal or no deal

June 2018: Rohr is handed a two-year contract - an extension of his first contract in 2016 - as a reward for qualifying the three-time Africa Cup of Nations winners for the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a game to spare.

July 2019: Following heavy criticism after Nigeria's defeat to Algeria in the semi-final of 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, the NFF strongly declares its backing of the German. "Rohr will not be sacked as Super Eagles coachexternal-link - he is a good coach who will remain with us," Pinnick says, adding: "We have had rocky and difficult moments in our relationship, but this is normal in any relationship between two people."

November 2019: Four months on, Rohr is baffled at the precarious situation of his contact ending in the middle of the 2021 Afcon qualifiers - casting a shadow of doubt on his future with the team. "I am starting the Afcon qualifiers and I don't know if I will remain at the end because the contract is finishing," he says.

Later that month, Pinnick reveals the first hint that of what the manager's new contract will look like. He tells the media he wants France-based Rohr to live in Nigeria: "Contracts are classified documents. What we are going to do is strengthen the clauses in his contract, domesticate Gernot Rohr in Nigeria and domesticate him to our leagues - that's just it."

December 2019: The Federation insists "Rohr's contract with Nigeria will be renewed before it expires". Pinnick also says the NFF will start negotiations with Rohr in January.

January 2020: Those promised negotiations already seem bogged down. The NFF announces it will have an extensive meeting with Rohr "to look at the nitty-gritty and tell him, 'Look at our situation. Can you do this and that?'"

April 2020: Three months on, Pinnick tells Arise TVexternal-link that this extensive sit-down has still not happened. He reiterates more details of the contract: "We have told him he must live in Nigeria. His salary will be in Naira. He must go around the leagues and see how he can nurture the players. If he is able to accept it, we have a deal. There are a lot of coaches that want to coach Nigeria."

Rohr responds, telling BBC Sport Africa "I already spend most of time living and working in Nigeria."

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