SAN FRANCISCO, December 17, (THEWILL) – Over the years, Nigeria’s football has been characterised by the good and the bad. But by far the greatest threat to the growth of soccer has been the poor management by the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, formerly called the Nigeria Football Association, NFA.
In analyzing the performance of Nigerian teams in the world soccer stage, the country’s ranking had been on the decline among top footballing nations, due partly to the poor attitude of the federal government and the NFF.
It is against this backdrop that the case of the senior national team, the Super Falcons can be better appreciated. On December 3, they won the African Women’s Cup of Nations, for the eight-time. Unfortunately, while all soccer-loving Nigerians celebrated with them, the NFF failed to pay them their match bonuses and allowances.
It is worrisome that while these girls staked their patriotism, time, stamina and energy to make the nation proud, the NFF, whose duty it is to promote the round-leather game has again, demonstrated gross insensitivity to the welfare of Nigeria’s national players, whether male or female.
The players had staged a sit-in at the Agura Hotel in Abuja, where they were camped after triumphing over Cameroon. They had vowed not to vacate their hotel rooms until their bonuses, totalling US$23,650 per player were paid. They had further taken their case to the Presidency, where the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Malam Abba Kyari, promised to resolve the matter.
According to one of the players, “The Super Falcons have been badly treated over the years. We went to the tournament to play for our country and won the trophy, but we are not made to feel like champions.”
This is sad especially considering the flamboyant recession that was accorded the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon, host of the 2016 AWCON, who lost in the final 0-1 to the Falcons. The Cameroonian President Paul Biya and his wife Mrs Chantal Biya openly celebrated with the girls he described as “Vice-Champions”.
As a way of encouraging the Nigerian female players, THEWILL urges the NFF to immediately review their bonuses and allowances. For instance, it was reported that the players were paid a paltry N10.000 each after qualifying for the competition.
There is no logic in paying them that meager sum when their male counterparts were known to have been paid N800.000 for a match draw and N1million for a win. There are reports that the victorious Falcons were still being owed their bonuses for their qualifications in the last year’s World Cup in Canada.
Apart from the allowances, the players also claimed that the NFF failed to pay them winning bonuses, totalling $6,500 before the competition started.
We support the steps taken by the players to compel the NFF to pay them their bonuses and allowances. We urge the presidency to prevail on the NFF to honour its pledge, not only to the Super Falcons, but to all national players.
The sports ministry should also pay professionals’ bonuses and allowances as at when due.
In the future engagement of our national teams, THEWILL would want this present international disgrace to bring an end to the recurring issue of unpaid allowances and poor management in the NFF, particularly as it concerns national teams.
It was reported that the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung travelled in a chartered flight to Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, while the victorious players travelled by road to Douala en route Nigeria. They reportedly travelled without their bags because the Camair-co plane used in conveying them was small.
We condemn the attitude of NFF officials, who take delight in leaving the players in uncomfortable situations while they exhibit flagrant flamboyant lifestyles at the expense of the players.
THEWILL commends the House of Representatives and indeed all individuals and organisations, who have intervened in the plight of the victorious girls.
However, THEWILL wants the National Assembly to use the pitiable experience of the Super Falcons to address the rot in the NFF, with the aim to ensuring that the unfair treatments meted out to national players are not repeated, the lawmakers must also put a law in place to consider the welfare of payers in the annual appropriations for sports.
The Federal Government must also address the bottleneck associated with releasing approved monies from its coffers, if the statement on the NFF’s website quoting the sports minister in that regard, is anything to go by.
But despite Dalung’s excuses that the ministry’s budget had been squeezed by the economic recession, we insist that honouring its obligation to victorious players is sacrosanct if they must continue to participate in the international tournaments, which is governed by international statutes and best practices.