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Sports

Griezmann severs ties with Huawei over Uighurs Muslims identification report

Griezmann has ended his sponsorship deal with Huawei over claims that the Chinese telecoms firm was involved in the surveillance of Muslim Uighurs.

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Barcelona and French Star, Antoine Griezmann has terminated his sponsorship deal with Shenzhen-based company’s smartphones, Huawei, after having signed a deal with the company since 2017.

The French World Cup winner severed ties with the Chinese company following media reports that the technology giant has contributed to the repression of the Uighurs, a minority population in China that has been the subject of tough government measures aimed at combatting Islamic extremism, Independent reports

According to a report from IPVM, US-based surveillance research firm, the report lists dozens of basic functions of the Megvii’s facial recognition system which was verified by Huawei that includes a “Uyghur alert”.

Also according to the report, the Chinese technology giant worked with facial recognition company Megvii to test an identification system that could determine an individual’s age, sex and ethnicity by scanning a large crowd.

What they are saying

Following the publication of the allegations, Griezmann announced he has cut ties with the telecommunications company with a statement on his Instagram profile.

“Following strong suspicions that the Huawei company has contributed to the development of a ‘Uighur alert’ thanks to facial recognition software, I am announcing the immediate termination of my partnership with the company,” Griezmann said in an Instagram post.

“I take this opportunity to invite Huawei to not just deny these accusations but to take concrete actions as quickly as possible to condemn this mass repression, and to use its influence to contribute to the respect of human and women’s rights in society,” he added.

A Huawei spokesperson, in response said: “We would like to extend an invitation to speak to him personally, to explain the work that is currently being done at the highest level, inside the company, to address the issues of human rights, equality, and discrimination at all levels.”

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Sports

Police raid FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou, ex-President, three others arrested

Spanish police raided the headquarters of F.C. Barcelona, seizing evidence and detaining four people.

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Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s regional police force has carried out a search on Monday morning on all the offices of the Spanish giants, FC Barcelona and reportedly arrested four people in the process.

The raid carried out by the Police was in search of evidence in relation to the “Barcagate” social media scandal that happened in February, where the Catalan giants allegedly paid third party companies to produce disparaging contents about some people including former players that are opposed and critical of former president, Bartomeu’s administration. A similar raid was also carried out in the club last year June.

The companies allegedly hired by the Spanish giants include I3 Ventures SL, NSG Social Science Ventures SL, Tantra Soft SA, Digital Side SA, Big Data Solutions SA and Futuric SA. There were allegations made that I3 Ventures SL were behind fake social media accounts despising as Barcelona fans that produced disparaging contents about the likes of Victor Font, the club’s presidential candidate. It also attacked high profile players like Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique and also former players like Xavi, Guardiola, etc.

According to reports, those arrested were former Barcelona president, Josep Bartomeu; the club’s chief executive, Oscar Grau; Roman Gomez Ponti, the head of legal services and Jaume Masferrer, an adviser to Bartomeu. The decision to arrest them was not the court’s decision. The arrests were made by the exclusive decision of the Mossos d’Esquadra. The Instructing Court number 13 in Barcelona which is in charge of the case only ordered for a search.

The Catalan giants have been mired in political turmoil and debt prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and this further stains the club’s image.

The raid comes less than a week before the club’s presidential elections are to be held which is coming up on March 7. Three candidates – Victor Font, Joan Laporta and Toni Freia – are on the final ballot for the crucial vote.

In a statement, Barcelona has offered to give their full collaboration regarding the ongoing investigations.

The club stated: “Regarding the entry and search by the Catalan Police force this morning at the Camp Nou offices by order of the Instructing Court number 13 in Barcelona, which is in charge of the case relating to the contacting of monitoring services on social networks, FC Barcelona have offered up their full collaboration to the legal and police authorities to help make clear facts which are subject to investigation.

“The information and documentation requested by the judicial police force relate strictly to the facts relative to this case.

“FC Barcelona express its utmost respect for the judicial process in place and for the principle of presumed innocence for the people affected within the remit of this investigation.”

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Sports business as a viable investment opportunity in Nigeria

Sport is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it’s only high time we tapped into that space.

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Often time, sports lovers around Nigeria spend hours upon hours soaking in foreign content to satisfy their interests. The likes of the NBA, Premier League, La Liga, Formula 1, and the UEFA Champions League have become products in very high demand on these shores, which has necessitated that these companies try to milk the benefits of the demand. Partnerships, incentivized promos and activations have become the order of the day, and it seems there is no end in sight.

Football as the king of sports has such a cult following in Nigeria that it is not uncommon for bars, event centres, bars, and hotels use football as a way of getting people to come around. They take it as a form of onboarding process to sell other commodities and services. It is a common joke in football circles that there are more Chelsea fans in Nigeria than in West London, where the English team originate from.

Nigerians and Africans, in general, love their sports, but it is quite sad that for the interest in sports, local content is not getting enough traction and leeway in the minds and thoughts of the average sports lovers. While the average sports fan can name at least 10 players from their favourite European clubs, the same cannot be said for local sports teams and this has been due to a myriad of factors mainly bad “packaging”, lack of relatable content, security challenges, and most importantly, lack of vision of the numerous business and investment opportunities that abound in sports.

This article highlights 3 problems and corresponding solutions that could make Nigerian sports content share same, if not more space in the hearts of the teeming sports fans that are all over the country.

Profit should be the end goal

Nigerian sports admins don’t see sports as a viable profit-making venture and this is simply inexplicable. Sports, all over the world is a teeming business that churns out profit when done right. The 2018-19 UEFA Champions League had a staggering revenue of €2.82 billion, with most of them from TV rights, sponsorship, matchday revenue and merchandising.

This begs a question as to why it is not a commercial activity in this side of the world, and this is simply due to two things: the lack of business-minded people at the helm of affairs and the interference of government in the day-to-day running of the sport.

Government should only create the right environment for sports, and the private sector should lead the drive. However, the major onus lies with the league body itself. Create the right product and see companies flock around you for sponsorships. Issues such as security, officiating, and hooliganism seriously need to be addressed. Fixing these alongside having a great product will bring the fans, and ultimately the profit.

Sports must not be a political agenda

Football, and in general, sports, has always been an avenue for state pride and regional superiority, but this should not be the main thing. The world is moving past this and we must also be adaptive to learning new things. While Nigeria practised a regional system of government, sports teams were used as a beacon and rays of hope of the good things that came from the region.

There was healthy competition, and while this was not entirely bad, it helped foster a sense of desperation that has taken new and dangerous turn in recent years. Sport has gone past this era; which means that sports should be seen as it is: just sports and not a tool to score cheap popularity with citizens or even as a form of empowering people. Sport is a business and must be treated as such.

Innovation must be continuous

The reason why the average sports fan loves foreign content is because of the endless innovations on offer. Sports is not static and should not be so in these shores. Advancement in technology must be adapted across board in terms of fitness, sport science, nutrition, training methods, coaching, and officiating. Innovation must be continuous, which is why the English Premier League continues to be number 1.

The Nigerian Professional Football League currently has a partnership with Redstrike Media to showcase selected games, which fans can access by paying a nominal monthly subscription fee. These sort of ideas will help a teeming youthful population rack up interest in the league, which can only be a win-win.

Final Thoughts

The opportunities in sports business in Nigeria are endless and cannot be wished away or swept under the table. Sport is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it’s only high time we tapped into that space. There is the market, the resources and the talent. We only need to get our acts right to earn the rewards.


About author

KADIRI, Ademola Afolabi writes relatable sports content from a business standpoint to help you better understand the not-so-common facets of the sports we all love.

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You can send him an email via [email protected]

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