Fashion brand, Puma, has terminated a 4-year contract with the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) because of a breach by the federation. Part of the requirements in the contract is that Nigerian athletes at the Olympics have to wear the Puma Merch ongoing Tokyo Olympics, however, the athletes have been banned from doing that by the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports.
Under the leadership of the AFN president, Ibrahim Gusau, the federation signed a $2.76 million deal with Puma on July 24, 2019, in Doha. The deal is originally supposed to end in 2022.
Per the contract, the athletics and casual wear brand will provide sports apparel to athletes of all ages in the federation for four years at no cost. Also, gold medallists will receive $15,000 and silver medallists will receive $5000 while bronze medallists wearing Puma apparel will get $3,000.
In the aftermath of the deal, the AFN was split as members of the federation and sports community accused Gusau and the AFN’s Technical Director, Sunday Adeleye of not carrying everyone along before the deal was signed.
This culminated in the Youths and Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, refusing to allow the athletes to wear the Puma merch at the Tokyo Olympics.
A statement released by the ministry reads in part, “The refusal of the Minister of Youth and Sports to allow Nigerian athletes to be kitted in Puma wears has drawn attacks and blackmailing stories against him. The Minister will not be part of a contract to which the contract documents have not been seen and the kits also not seen.
“The Ministry steered clear of the clouds over the Puma kits and went for local content as directed under the local content law of Nigeria. Ministry and AFN went for a local garment producer to kit Team Nigeria.”
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According to Sunday Dare, the contract of the $2.76 million has not been seen and neither have the merch from Puma been seen. He has also recently said that the deal is currently the subject of a criminal investigation and as such, the Nigerian athletes can not be permitted to wear the items.
However, A report from another online publication, says that the AFN president has been cleared by the Department of Secret Services (DSS) of the accusations levelled against his administration by the Youths and Sports Ministry.
Nevertheless, the athletes and officials from Nigeria that are in Tokyo have been spotted on social media wearing different brands while representatives from other countries are uniformly kitted.
It also appears that the team does not have sufficient kits for its members. A recently released video by Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, a Shotput athlete, showed him washing his only jersey one day to his tournament. In the video which has now been deleted, he wrote, “When you made the Olympic Finals, but you only have one jersey.”
Recall that the kits that were donated by a China-based company for the Nigerian Basketball team were also detained by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). The NCS requested a sum of N35 million before the kits can be cleared, a sum which the team officials have declared that they cannot afford.