• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup hosting seen stimulating Nigeria’s economic growth

Osinbajo Amajukaj

If Nigeria succeeds in its quest to host the 2020 edition of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, it would be a boost to the country’s tourism business as well as impact positively on “Brand Nigeria”.

If granted the hosting right by FIFA, Nigeria would be the first African country to stage the event.

The quest by Nigeria is getting the nod of stakeholders, who noted that if the global tournament holds in the country, all sectors of its economy would benefit. They added that Nigeria cannot afford to lose out on these opportunities.

“It will stimulate growth across all the major sectors of the economy,” said Rasaq Abiola, head, investor relations, United Bank for Africa plc.

He advised that Africa’s largest economy should position itself and leverage on the opportunities of staging the event.

Nigeria has put forward the cities of Lagos, Benin City, Asaba and Uyo for the hosting of the 16-nation finals. The government says it is 100 percent in support of the country’s bid to host the tournament.

“The government of Nigeria guarantees to back the bid 100 percent. We are actually excited with the prospect of hosting the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in 2020. For us, football is a unifying force. Government interest in hosting is beyond commercial; football is a measure of unity and well-being of our people as diverse as we are,” Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said in Abuja on Thursday when a team from FIFA and accompanying officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and members of the Bid Committee paid him a courtesy call at the Presidential Villa.

He promised that the government would mobilise every apparatus to ensure a successful hosting, in the areas of infrastructure, security and other logistics.

Speaking further on what Nigeria stands to gain from hosting the tournament, Abiola said it would provide an opportunity for those who have heard only negative stories of crisis and insecurity about Nigeria to see the positive sides of the country.

“If we are able to host the tournament, it will attract tourists to Nigeria who would find very exciting things about the country and that presents them opportunities to visit in future. In terms of tourism, it portends significant tourist opportunities for the country,” he said.

Qatar’s construction industry has been undergoing significant growth over the last three years ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and that will continue over the next one year, BusinessDay findings show. The number of immigrants to Qatar, particularly those in the construction sector, has tripled in the last three years.

“On the back of preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar economy is growing at 6.2 percent over the last three years and it will continue to grow at that level even after the World Cup,” Abiola said.

He said Nigeria’s construction sector would see a lot of growth on the back of the infrastructure that need to be put in place to support the event, and do, the hospitality, infrastructure and transportation industry would boom.

 “It also provides significant multiplier effects for several sectors of the economy including the hospitality industry. When tourists, fans and participating teams arrive for the World Cup, they will have to move around, lodge in hotels. This means that the hospitality industry will boom and that will attract new investment in the sector,” Abiola said.

Felix Awogu, general manager, SuperSports West Africa, agrees that hosting the competition is a plus for the Nigerian economy.

“To me, anything that can give joy to the people, especially now that the economy is stressed and the people are unhappy, is a plus to the economy. There will be income from tourism as well. It will provide tourists the opportunity to visit Nigeria and enjoy some of the beautiful places we have,” Awogu said.

He believes Nigeria has the facilities to host the tournament.

“It’s not a grade A competition like the senior Women’s World Cup, but an U20 tournament, a developmental programme. In Europe, they play these games inside university campuses. I don’t think there is any big deal in hosting the game,” he said.

He, however, urged the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to ensure the basic logistics and infrastructure are put in place, saying timing would not hinder the nation’s chances of winning the bid to host the tournament as the game comes up in a year’s time.

“It’s a developmental programmme and we can even use some universities that have decent facilities and host it. Most under-age competitions are done with university facilities or campuses. So, for us to use our stadia, we have taken it much higher and FIFA should be excited,” he said.

Awogu advised government to provide adequate security before, during and after the games.

“For me, security is the most important thing the organisers have to consider and once that is sorted out, we are good to go. We need to raise the level of security. Most places are relatively safe. Of course, there are incidents here and there, but I think the government should address it,” he said.

On the challenge of funding, he said host cities can provide assistance and FIFA will also provide some grants.

“We don’t need to spend billions to host the U20 Women’s World Cup like we always do to host bigger tournaments,” he said.

When an inspection team from FIFA and officials of the NFF paid him a courtesy call in his office on Tuesday, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State, assured that the state would meet the world football body’s high standards in the areas of accommodation, security, logistics and crowd management.

“We will make sure to upgrade facilities wherever this is required,” Sanwo-Olu said.