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While the world celebrated outstanding displays of skill and technical depth in the game of football, Nigeria was left to contend with the continual stain on her reputation over the management of funds between administrators and players. The female national team, the Super Falcons, refused to leave their hotel on Sunday, June 23. They insisted on the payment of bonuses and claims stretching over two years. They finally left after the intervention of FIFA and missing their initial scheduled flight.
Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) officials wore a straight, boldface in disclaimers. They asserted that there was no cause for the uproar. The explanation ranged from a denial of any outstanding bonuses to the players, to claims of a changed payment structure for it. FIFA intervened on Sunday, June 23, by warning that it would surcharge Nigeria for any additional costs incurred over the refusal of our ladies to leave camp.
Many issues arise from the post-defeat action of the team and their performance in the Women’s World Cup, France 2019.
Integrity. Accountability. Credibility. Absence of trust.
Underlining the action of the players are matters of the absence of trust and failure in communication. Lack of confidence creates channel noise that leads to communication failures. The players no longer trusted the words of their officials and acted to draw global attention to the issue; they extracted a firm commitment to the resolution of the problems once they arrive in Nigeria.
The Super Falcons told the world press NFF owed them bonuses from two games, against Gambia and Senegal, dating two years back. The amount involved is a miserly N2million (approximately US$5600) out of which they claim NFF paid half. They also want five days of daily allowance at the World Cup yet to be paid and a share of the participation fee for the World Cup that FIFA pays teams.
NFF President Amaju Pinnick asserted that the Federation had paid all outstanding allowances. He added, “The only thing outstanding is the participation fee from FIFA, which is not expected to come until after the tournament. But they insist that they want to get paid, as they have spoken to players from Cameroon and France, who told them they have already been paid.”
The NFF in a further statement detailed what and how it paid the Super Falcons. It claimed bewilderment at the subsequent demand by the players for payment of their 30 per cent share of the participation bonus FIFA pays teams. Then it tried the patriotism and respect card, after admitting that it had yet to pay the daily allowance for the additional five days stay of the girls following qualification for the round of sixteen.
NFF stated, “After the team’s exit from the tournament due to defeat by Germany, the only money the NFF has to pay the players is the extra 5 days’ daily allowance of $500 to each player for the days spent from the end of group stage to the day they played Germany in Grenoble.
The daily allowance is paid only when the days are known, as we could have defeated Germany and thus stayed more days in the tournament. Accordingly, these payments will be resolved within the next business days upon return of the team to Nigeria.
“In truth, the NFF is very much bewildered as to why the Super Falcons chose to embark on this route. His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari took time out of his busy schedule on Saturday to call the team prior to the match against Germany to wish them luck and assure them of Government support at all times. It is our view that whatever issues they had, they should have respected the President as a person and Nigeria as an entity and resolve to have their issues, if any, settled back home”.
Enough of this slur on Nigeria each time our teams go outside for tournaments. It is difficult to understand the delay that resulted in the Presidential approval coming so late that the funds are only in processing while the competitions are already on. We had four years to plan and at least two years notice once our teams qualified!
Unfortunately, leaders and organisations such as the NFF lack the trust of their teams. At the bottom is systems failure where the young people do not trust the managers of the team to do right by them. The sit-in in France is the third time that the players have embarked on work-to-rule over the same monetary issues. We plead with the NFF and similar bodies to ensure it does not happen again.