Super Falcons players reenacted their 2016 sit-in protest at the weekend shortly after they suffered 3-0 defeat against Germany to crash out of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
According to reports from the France, the Thomas Dennerby coach players refused to vacate their hotel rooms for the return trip to their respective bases unless all their outstanding bonuses are paid in full.
But the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) denied last night that it was not owing the players.
“We have paid the players and officials the entitlements due them for the tournament and other outstanding bonuses and allowances were settled before the team arrived at the World Cup finals,” Shehu Dikko, NFF 2ndVice President said in a statement released late last night.
One of the players claimed they are owed bonuses amounting to N2 million from two games against The Gambia and Senegal, from as far back as two years ago.
The same player admitted that they have only been paid N1million, leaving a balance of another N1 million plus five days daily allowance at the World Cup in France.
“They paid us 1 million (Naira) and said that is all. We want them to pay the balance,” one player told ESPN. “Part of that money is from two years ago, the other is from three years ago. And they are also owing us five days’ daily allowance here in France.
“Before the World Cup, we asked them for a meeting so that we could discuss our World Cup bonuses, like they did with the men’s team last year. They ignored the letter and nobody said anything about it until now.”
The players are also demanding their share of the World Cup participation fee from FIFA, even though the tournament’s organisers are not scheduled to pay those until September.
However, Nigeria Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick told ESPN that the federation was not owing the players as all the outstanding allowances have been paid.
“We have paid them everything they are being owed,” Pinnick declared.
“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,” stressed the NFF chief.
This is not the first time Nigeria’s women team has staged a protest over bonuses. After winning the 2016 African title in Cameroon, the squad returned home and staged a public demonstration on the streets of the capital, Abuja, to demand payment of their outstanding allowances.
In 2004, the team also sat in for three days at their hotel in South Africa after winning the African title until the allowances were settled.
The Federation in the statement last night went further to clarify in detail as follows:
The monies for the Super Falcons’ preparation and participation at the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in France (and indeed the Super Eagles’ preparation and participation in the AFCON 2019in Egypt) were recently approved by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR). But the release of the funds is still being processing by the Federal Ministry of Finance and will be concluded soonest.
Inspite of the delay in release of funds, the NFF made huge sacrifices including borrowing to ensure it gave the Falcons the very best of preparation for the World Cup in France with about 15 test games, with camps/games held in China, Cyprus, Spain, CIV, and Austria (a fact that even the team duly appreciated and agreed it was the best-ever for any Nigerian team going to the Women’s World Cup and even wrote to thank the NFF). The NFF is indeed encouraged by results achieved by the Super Falcons in France, being the first time the team qualified to the knockout rounds in the last 20 years with credible performance against some of the world’s best teams.
The NFF duly ensured it addressed all the issues raised by the team captain Desire Oparanozie via an email prior to the team resuming in camp in Austria and used it best efforts, to settle all the players’ claims and bonuses to so as to provide an enabling platform for the players to perform without any distractions in France for the World Cup.
To this end, payments made to the players at the pre-World Cup camp in Austria and France (World Cup proper) are set out below:
- a) 2016 Women Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier: Nigeria Vs Senegal (Home Match) played in Abuja – Win bonus of N500,000 paid to each player.
- b) 2018 Women Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier: Nigeria Vs Gambia (Home Match) played in Lagos – Win bonus of N500,000 paid to each player.
- c) Camp and Friendly matches played in Spain – 7 days’ daily allowance of $700 paid to each player.
- c) WAFU Cup Tournament (staged in Cote d’Ivoire): Allowance of $500 paid to each player.
- d) Pre-World Cup camp in Austria: 14 days’ daily allowance $1,400 paid to each player.
- e) Refund made to players on visa procurement, train, bus and airport taxi from their different bases in Europe to the camp in Austria.
- f) $4,400 paid to each player, being win bonus for the World Cup match against Korea Republic ($3,000) and 14 days’ daily allowance for the World Cup ($1,400). This was paid direct to each of the players’ domiciliary accounts by NFF fund managers, Financial Derivatives Company and by Friday most of the players had started receiving alerts depending on their banks.
Nigeria reached the knockout stage of the Women’s World Cup in France before losing 3-0 to Germany in the round of 16 on Saturday in Grenoble.