Nigeria Football Federation, NFF Pledges to Settle $7m Debt Owed to Super Falcons
Nigeria’s female football team, the Super Falcons on Tuesday, started a protest over their unpaid allowances and bonuses. This was after the team had won the African Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) trophy on Saturday after a 1-0 win over hosts Cameroon.
The players vowed to remain at their Agora hotel in Abuja until their money is paid. [perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”We are tired of the lies and false promises from the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF,”[/perfectpullquote]
one player, who insisted on anonymity, told BBC Sport. “They told us we would be paid before the tournament in Cameroon, but that never happened. We continued playing and now we are owed additional allowances and bonuses for winning the competition itself.” She added, [perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”We have made it clear to the NFF president and general secretary that we are going nowhere until all our monies from the qualifying and the competition in Cameroon have been paid.”[/perfectpullquote]
The players claim that the allowances and match bonuses owed to each of them by the NFF since the team begun preparation for the just concluded African Women’s Cup of Nations amounts to $25,000 (about N11.25 million for each player)
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday started deliberation on the crisis surrounding the payment of outstanding allowances and bonuses to the victorious Super Falcons.
According to National Daily Newspaper, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed while speaking with State House correspondents at the end of FEC meeting, said that FEC is looking into the matter. “The Minister of Youth and Sports raised the issue today at the council and it is being looked into,” he said. The minister attributes the problem to the economic recession the country is facing.
NFF’s Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire, in a statement pledging to pay the allowances said the money was not readily available. The statement read:
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] The Federation is not happy about owing players and coaches. But it can only continue to seek their understanding and those of hoteliers and travel agents, as well as its management and staff until the situation improves.
There is no gain saying in the fact that there is a severe economic challenge in the country now and all organisations, whether government or private, are feeling the pinch. But, it is not government’s doing.
We know we have financial commitment to the players and officials of Super Falcons, and we have not at any time stated otherwise. But the money is not readily available at the moment.
I appeal to them to understand the situation of the Federation, to understand the situation of the country at the present and exercise patience.
We will pay them all monies they are being owed as soon as we receive same from government, just as we paid the national under-17 team’s players and officials who won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile last year, after the tournament. Just as we paid coach Samson Siasia’s wages as soon as we had the funds after the Olympics.
We still owe the Super Eagles for the matches against Zambia and Algeria, but the memos have gone to government and are being looked at.
But we must commend the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, who has been energetically pushing the cases of the various national teams.
We have sent the memo for the Women Africa Cup of Nations in October and it is being processed as we speak.
We are also working to get monies outstanding from former sponsors of the national teams, to complement what we are expecting from government.
In relation to all these, we are in the process of sorting out our TSA domiciliary accounts so that we can receive our due grants from FIFA and CAF, including the $80,000 prize money from the AWCON, once it is available. [/perfectpullquote]
Despite the appeal by the NFF, the Super Falcons insist that they will not trust the Federation’s promises and will not be calling off their sit-in protest as requested.
It should also be noted that it is not the first time clashes over unpaid bonuses have come up. In 2004, the team remained in their hotel in South Africa for three days after the Nigeria FA (NFA) failed to pay their bonuses for winning the 2004 African Women’s Championship.
With such protests coming up every now and then, coaches and players going unpaid for months, Nigerian players might start playing for other nations so as to be able to earn a living. Striker Francis Ordega expressed her frustration by saying, “If I had not played for Nigeria at full international level, trust me I would have played somewhere else,” She added. “The U-17 and U-20 teams have been blamed for the performances at their recent World Cups, but they were poorly prepared for these competitions. If this continues, Nigeria will soon cease to be a force in Africa because there will be no future Super Falcons.”
Featured Photo: Courtesy of The Official Twitter Page of The Nigeria Football Federation.