Benin Sports Fans Decry Blackout of International Sporting Events

By Samuel Ahmadu

Watching international sports events, including those featuring national teams, has become a luxury—if not entirely impossible in Benin Republic.

The blame often falls on government advisers who seem unaware of the vital role sports play in society.

Two prominent figures are frequently cited: Sinatou Saka and Jean-Marc Adjovi Bocco. Saka, a journalist with expertise in digital entrepreneurship, was appointed last year as the Beninese state’s representative on the board of the joint audiovisual company. Bocco, a former professional footballer who played for the Benin national team, serves as the technical adviser to the minister of sports.

Both were expected to leverage their positions to guide the government on broadcast rights issues, ensuring citizens could access international sports events, especially football. However, their stance suggests they view international sports broadcasting as a luxury due to the high costs of securing these rights. They seem to be using the context in France as a benchmark, despite the fact that sponsorship and advertising are still very weak in Benin.

Even when rights sellers lower their prices, Saka is believed to have declined the offers. This disregard for the public’s passion for sports is disheartening. Despite his background in sports, Bocco has not provided the necessary support, depriving millions of Beninese people of the joy of watching their national teams and athletes.

The public expects Saka and Bocco to advise the government to subsidize the cost of television rights, thereby making international sports events accessible to all citizens and enriching the overall sporting culture in Benin.