In Europe, there are four major leagues – EPL, Bundesliga, Serie A, and La Liga. But the EPL has a monopoly of the market. They have signed good contracts, they have access and they pay them big money. We had to think about other leagues. Before the EPL, Nigerians were more familiar with the Serie A and other leagues. But I believe the Bundesliga can be popular (in Nigeria) in the future. They have big players. So we believe there is a big potential in the Bundesliga. The attendance at the venues is enormous. You can see the pictures. The Bundesliga also has a big interest in the Nigerian market, because Nigeria is a big country with a great population, and almost everybody loves football. Football is almost a religion. We have different events to work with. Last year, we had an event called the Legends Tour and we invited Jay Jay Okocha, who played in the Bundesliga (with Eintracht Frankfurt 1992-1996), to the event in Lagos. And this year we brought the FC Bayern Youth Cup competition and brought the Bundesliga trophy to Nigeria. This shows that the Bundesliga is paying attention to the Nigerian market. We have interest in them (Bundesliga) and they have interest in us. It makes a very good point for us to work together. The FC Bayern Youth Cup is even better because it can provide a lot of chances for young Nigerian players. When they are selected they will get professional opportunities. We have a responsibility to give Nigerian youths an opportunity to grow.
ou have predicted that the Bundesliga would overtake the EPL and La Liga in terms of popularity Nigeria. Is it possible?
Yes, but it will take time. I believe they have a lot of potential.
Does your company have plans to promote other sports?
We have a lot of sports we are promoting each day, since StarTimes started operations in 2010. In the past eight years, we have developed other sports. We have the Chinese league, Bundesliga, Serie A, NBA and hockey. This year we bought the right to broadcast the World Cup. Every day StarTimes breaks monopolies. I think we have to promote more sports. I believe that in the future StarTimes will have all channels.
It has been suggested your company wants to partner Bayern Munich to set up a football academy in Nigeria. Some people believe partnering the club to hold the FC Bayern Youth Cup in Nigeria and Africa for the first time was a move in that direction. What’s your comment?
We have discussed the possibility of having a Bayern Munich football academy in Nigeria. We have to discuss further details. We need to consider how to work with each other, we have also discussed with other football teams. But we have not concluded anything.
Apart from football do you have plans to help develop boxing, wrestling, basketball and other sports in Nigeria?
Yes. We are looking at boxing and basketball but we want to strengthen our hold on football. We want to go step by step.
We are working to attract interest to traditional sports in the country. We believe we can make traditional sports popular by focusing on them. We are working hard to draw people to traditional sports. StarTimes also has plans for the Nigerian football league and we are looking at the areas we can help. Football is the biggest sport in the world followed by volleyball and maybe basketball. But right now, our major focus is on football, and we can’t say we are there yet. As time goes on, once we improve on our football hold – either in terms of partnerships or even get a sponsorship from Bayern Munich, then we can decide to go into other sports. We will find ways to develop other sports. We know where to go and find talents but for now we want to strengthen football.