A Nigerian woman of Igbo extraction, Nneka Ede, has emerged as the first African woman to own a club in Europe following her acquisition of Portuguese club, Lusitano Ginásio Clube, Futebol, SAD.
Lusitano competes in the Campeonato de Portugal, the third division of Portugal’s football pyramid and Mrs Ede took over ownership of the 108-year-old club in June 2020.
She said: “I am excited about this opportunity and I hope that this new chapter will deepen the already great sporting relations between Nigeria and Portugal, continue with the rich history of Lusitano club and provide a pathway for young talent to develop and shine through.”
A statement from the club said: “After months of negotiations with different entities, an agreement has been reached with Mrs Nneka Ede, a sports enthusiast and entrepreneur from Nigeria, a country filled with people as passionate and fiery about football as us and which incidentally share the same green and white in their flags, towards the transfer of the ownership of the SAD to the latter that will help us in our mission to take Lusitano to the next level.”
Mrs Ede becomes the second Nigerian to purchase a Portuguese club after businessman Kunle Soname bought Clube Desportivo Feirense in 2015.
Founded on November 11, 1911 by a group of high school and commercial school youngsters, Lusitano – derived from Lusitania, the Roman name for the province corresponding to the current territory of Portugal south of the Douro river and to the modern-day Spanish region of Extremadura – competed in Portugal’s topflight for the first time in the 1952–53 season finishing up 7th.
The club enjoyed a relatively successful period in the 1950s and 1960s and spent 14 consecutive seasons in the Primeira Divisão earning an impressive 5th place in 1956/57, and reaching the semi-finals of the Taça de Portugal twice.
They were relegated in 1966 and have never competed in Portugal’s top flight ever since but they hold a proud record of being in the top 30 of teams with the most presences in the Portuguese topflight.