Background to the Study
Crisis has posed a big obstacle to effective club soccer management around the globe. According to O’beirne and Ries (2000), sports (including soccer) organizers and administrators are concerned over the increasing incidences and consequences of crisis, which has become a global phenomenon and poses an obstacle to effective sports management. Napravnik (1993) reported that there is currently an increase in both frequency and seriousness of the act of soccer crises documented throughout the globe especially soccer violence. Wenn (1989) had observed that crises experienced in club soccer are numerous including both violent and non-violent crises. He identified violent crises to include soccer violence, accidents and severe injuries as well as terrorism in soccer arena. Main (1985) had enumerated other types of non-violent crises in club soccer to include boycott of matches, strikes by players and officials for non-payment of salaries, allowances and match bonuses, as well as scandals such as sexual harassment of players and officials. Oyewusi (1991) added other forms of non-violent crises among soccer clubs to include bribery and corruption, racism, and match fixing. Ogujiofor (2000) also added disruptive propaganda, costly mistakes by officials and players, disinformation whereby false information is given intentionally in order to hide the truth and confuse people, and misinformation in which incorrect information is given to distort the fact; as well as protests and demonstrations (Patti, 2008).
Many incidents of crises have been recorded among soccer clubs in South-Eastern States. No Violence (2000a) reported on severe accidents and injuries in the violent incident in a match between Jasper United and Enugu Rangers in Onitsha on 11 December, 2000 and (No Violence, 2001) reported on Enymiba Football Cub (F. C.) and Jasper United fans also in Onitsha on 8 May, 2001. Even in the 2007 Globacom Premier Soccer league, Apu (2007) reported many incidents of crises such as boycott of matches, match fixing and crowd violence that left two fans dead and many others injured in the match between Akwa United and Enyimba International F.C.of Aba on 27 March, 2007. Solaja (2007) reported on protests, misinformation, disinformation and match fixing in which the Vice Chairman of Rangers International F.C. of Enugu, Mr. Ray Nnaji protested and alleged a gang-up that led to match fixing against his club in the 2007 Nigerian Premier League.
Crises during club soccer matches expose both organisers and other participants to various kinds of risks. Ukwayi (1998) observed that club soccer crises such as violence exposes participants to the risk of accidents, injuries, discomfort, disabilities and damage to property and sometimes death. Oyewusi (1991) indicated that apart from the destruction of human lives and property, cherished names of players, officials and soccer clubs as well as the standard of the game are damaged by crisis. Main (1985) expressed that some soccer crises such as violence and terrorism can frighten soccer officials to the point of not being fair, firm and friendly. According to Wenn (1989), soccer administrators and sports organisers may become afraid of arranging soccer matches and spectators can be frightened to the state of boycotting live-games.
It might be because of the above consequences that Wenn (1989) reported that in 1985, the Sports and Recreation Ministers’ Council (SRMC) meeting held in Australia declared excessive violent-behaviour in club soccer and other forms of sports crises generally unacceptable. The ministers therefore recommended that strategies and intervention models should be developed to prevent or reduce both violent and non-violent crises on and off the playing field. The present study is in response to this call.
Crisis management, a public relations management concept is currently being adapted into sports to handle the problem of crisis. This is because a crisis, emergency or disaster is usually a very public event, and performance of any organization or industry caught in crisis is subject to immediate public scrutiny as it tries to deal with the many consequences of the crisis situation (White, 1991). The organisation’s performance at such a time, in his opinion, will be remembered and in some cases memories of how poorly it responded may sooner or later contribute to driving it out of existence.
Anyanwu (1981), Oyewusi (1991), Mohammed (1998) and Agbanusi (2001) agreed that most soccer crises emanate from players, team officials, match officials, and fans. The other groups that can cause crises according to them are security, media and spectators.
Wiener and Kahn (1982) described crisis as a turning point in an unfolding sequence of events and actions. According to Nwosu (1996), crisis is a breach in the natural order of things, an aberration in the system or a disruptive force that could destroy the system or organisation concerned. Hessert (1999) defined crisis as a turning point for better or for worse, a decisive moment or a crucial time. The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress (2003) defined crisis as a traumatic event that is typically unpredicted and overwhelming for those who experience it. Encarta (2008) defined crisis as a situation or period in which things are very uncertain, difficult, or painful, especially a time when action must be taken to avoid complete breakdown.
Minaham (1987) also stated that crisis occurs when a person faces an obstacle to set goal that is for a time insurmountable through customary methods of problem solving. From the above definitions, crisis is viewed as a moment of great danger, a difficult situation, a traumatic event a crucial time or a turning point that can result to bad or worst condition. In an organisation or system, it can breach the normal operations or natural order of things (Chak-Tong, 2004) and it has the capability of destroying the organisation or system. Crisis occurs when an orgnaisation can not resolve issues and problems through customary methods of problem solving. In this study therefore, crisis is defined as a traumatic event, a moment of great danger, difficulty or a turning point, arising from failure to identify and resolve issue and problems in club soccer programme or competition, which is capable of destroying the well-being and reputation of individual players, officials and the clubs. It may be caused and can be prevented or controlled. It may occur when certain issues and problems are inadequately handled.
On his discussion of issues and crisis management, Nwosu (1996) revealed that when certain issues are neglected or ignored and problems inadequately handled or solved, they might mature and lead to crisis. Main (1985), Wenn (1989) and Ukwayi (1998) are of the opinion that issues and problems such as poor officiating of club matches; collection of money by officials to favour a team; use of incompetent and biased officials are some of the issues and problems, which match organizers and clubs must give serious attention to during club soccer programmes or competition. According to them, other issues and problems include insensitivity to players or club petitions, doping, unfair play and threat to win at all cost. They believed that failure to identify and adequately handle these issues and problems might help to build up tension, anxiety and aggression, which may eventually reach the peak and the turning point to trigger off crisis.