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“Nigerians’ love for European football took a dangerous turn on Wednesday night when an embittered Manchester United fan ran into a group of jubilating Barcelona…

“Nigerians’ love for European football took a dangerous turn on Wednesday night when an embittered Manchester United fan ran into a group of jubilating Barcelona supporters in Rivers with a van and killed four on the spot. Rivers’ Police Command yesterday confirmed the incident. Police spokesperson Rita Abbey said in Port Harcourt that the incident occurred when an enraged Manchester United fan drove his bus into a crowd of about 20 FC Barcelona supporters, killing four on the spot.

“‘The driver had passed the crowd then made a U-turn and ran into them,’ the police spokeswoman said, adding that 10 other people had also been injured and were being treated in a hospital in Ogbo, Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers, the scene of the incident. Barcelona of Spain won the game 2-0, scoring a goal apiece in each half of the final match of the competition played at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. Abbey said the suspect was already in police custody at the Ahoada Area Command. Rivers’ FA Chairman Christopher Green described the action of the driver as bizarre, saying that true sports fans would not behave that way. ‘The man must have been drunk,’ the FA chief said.”


The City of Rome, where the Champions League Final was played between Spanish Barcelona and English Manchester United, BANNED THE SALE OF ALCOHOL to avoid violence. The ban included all the city’s airports and stations as reported by www.news24.com: “The Italian capital is limiting alcohol sales in neighbourhoods famous for their nightlife to clamp down on loud, all-night partying [and violence]. Under new rules that took effect on Friday, no alcohol can be sold in bars, restaurants, supermarkets or other outlets…the sale of alcohol is banned inside bars and restaurants. Mayor Gianni Alemanno, who was elected on a law-and-order platform, remarked: ‘We want to avoid extremism, the idea that anything can be done and that one can drink forever. An administration must protect everybody, including those who don’t get drunk every day.’”

Consider this: In the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Department of Justice Report on Alcohol and Crime recently found that alcohol abuse was a factor in 40 percent of violent crimes committed in the US. Over in the United Kingdom, a BBC report stated that the cost of dealing with incidents and disease involving alcohol is about £1.7bn a year. About a million people visit A&E [accident and emergency] departments each year because of alcohol-related factors. The government is set to publish its recommendations on what can be done to tackle the issue of alcohol misuse shortly. Alcohol consumption has increased by 50 per cent since 1970. The annual cost of alcohol-related crime and public disorder has been estimated at £7.3bn, the cost to employers has been put at £6.4bn.

This is exactly what the Kano State Hisba is trying to do in the state. As Islamic Law says NO ALCOHOL (and related intoxicants), the Kano Hisba has been mandated by law to enforce that ban. Unfortunately, many Nigerians, including security agencies who should be happiest when crime is at a minimum, are hell-bent on frustrating the Hisba. Over the last few years, Kano has seen remarkable improvement in security, thanks to the combined effort of societal reorientation (A Daidaita Sahu) enlightenment and Hisba vigilance, especially its commendable fight against alcohol and other intoxicants. While we read condemnations of the Hisba’s commendable work, Nigerian media have still not yet condemned Rome’s ban on alcohol. And Rome is the home of the Vatican.

Still in our quest to rebrand this “Arsenal” Generation of Nigerian young men, many a Nigerian young girl is afraid of the day she has to share the television with a brother or male relative. Unwholesome outcomes usually come out of such encounters. Consider this story from Koton-Karfe, Kogi State, also on the pages of several Nigerian newspapers last week titled “Young Man Kills Sister Over TV Football”: “A family was thrown into mourning the other day in Koton-Karfe, Kogi State, when their son, Musa Audu, 18, mistakenly killed his sister Mariam by hitting her on the head with a blunt object. Reports say while the sister wanted to watch movies on television, Musa, a Chelsea fan, wanted to watch a football game between his favourite Chelsea and Liverpool. Mariam, however, refused to let go of the remote control. A struggle ensued and Musa hit Maryam with a club to her head. Mariam fainted and was rushed to hospital where she was confirmed dead. Their father, Benjamin Musa, who was ill, fainted on hearing the news of the tragedy. Musa is on the run.”

What sort of country is this? Despite these tragedies caused by the English Premier League and other European football tournaments, the Federal Government-owned Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and private television channels are happiest when they broadcast these games live, on primetime. At one time, such football games even replaced NTA’s Network News where, it should be expected, the country’s president may tell citizens about progress on his agenda. (With the current rebranding campaign, however, one could notice that the soccer game has started giving way to the Network News).

Ask this “Arsenal” Generation of Nigerian young men who won Nigeria’s league this year (which ended only last week) and most of them wouldn’t know, and wouldn’t care. But they know every Chelsea player, every Arsenal player, every Manchester United player. Yet, despite this madness, craziness and infatuation, Manchester United has no Nigerian page on its website. Check out manutd.com and they have Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic versions, but no Nigerian. But the way Nigerian young men discuss Manchester United, one would think the team is in Ikorodu.

Speaking on Ikorodu, consider again this pathetic story from that area of Lagos, also reported on the Nigerian media recently. “An 18-year old fan Chelsea, Dare Oguntoyinbo, has been charged with the murder of Arsenal fan Kazeem Tajudeen by stabbing him in the chest. An argument had started as to which [English] club is superior, and Dare and his friends beat Kazeem beat up and stabbed him till he bled to death. The case is before an Ebute-Metta Magistrate Court.”

We must all strive to rebrand this “Arsenal Generation” of Nigerian young men. Up Kano Pillars!

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