The Nigerian senior womens football team, the Super Falcons have seized the African Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) trophy they just won until the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) pays them all outstanding bonuses and allowances.
According to reports, a meeting between members of the NFF and the Falcons ended with the players vowing to remain at their Agora hotel in Abuja until their money is paid.
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).
A statement signed by NFF’s Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire, quoted the Federation’s General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, as saying the money for this was however not available at the moment.
The NFF statement in which it pledged to pay the allowances read:
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 gainsaying 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.
Striker Francis Ordega lamented that they have done Nigeria honor by winning the trophy for the nation after a bruising battle with Cameroon, but Nigeria have failed to treat the team in the right manner. “If I had not played for Nigeria at full international level, trust me I would have played somewhere else,” She said. “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.”