World Cup: Sports betting threatens support for Super Eagles

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By Martins Odeh

Some fans of the Super Eagles of Nigeria have expressed fears that the proliferation of sports betting outfits in the country might affect the expected unwavering support for the team in Russia.

Some of the fans expressed their fears while speaking on the Coupe de Mundial which begins on Thursday with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.

The Eagles are in Group D alongside the Albiceleste of Argentina, Iceland’s Strákarnir Okkar (Our Boys) and Vatreni of Croatia.

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The Eagles open their account at the World Cup against the Vatreni of Croatia on Saturday at 8 p.m.

A number of the fans said the supporters were now scampering for money through football betting.

They were of the opinion that the days when fans had no options than to support the team were gone, adding that sports betting had opened a new vista with which sports enthusiasts could make money.

Sports betting dates as far back as the time of Greek City States about 2,000 years ago.

The Romans then adopted this from the Greeks and turned it into a money generating source via the arena, gladiators’ games.

Although efforts were made to squash sports betting in the middle ages but sports betting already had its hold on the people and those efforts were futile.

A businessman, Chima Okenwa, said the introduction of football betting in the country had exposed the business aspect of the game.

Okenwa said it was now customary for some fans to tip their teams to lose a match against probable superior opponents to increase their chances during staking.

Vitalis Momah, a civil servant, aligning with Okenwa said: “It is now all about the money involved in staking a bet.

“Since I got into football betting, I erased emotion and sentiment from my lexicon. I now watch games with the hope to win money from them.’’

According to him, the World Cup provides 30 days of hope and aspiration for fans to make money from many fronts.

“However, I sincerely pray for the Super Eagles to perform well at the Coupe de Mundial, but the players need to assure me before I can tip them against their opponents while betting,’’ he said.

Smith Oklobia, also a civil servant, said he had prepared to invest money in all the matches that would be played, adding that he could only pray for teams he would mark for victory.

“This is not to say I will not pray for the Super Eagles, I am patriotic, but it is time to make some cash,’’ he said.

On his part, Mohammed Abubakar, said the Eagles remained his number one team to support, adding, however, that football betting had changed the fans following configuration in the country.

“I do bet sometimes with club football. The World Cup is like war and therefore, we must support our team,’’ Abubakar said.

There are approximately 19 functional Online Sports Betting sites that can be accessed by people in Nigeria.

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