The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has said it is not owing players and officials of the Senior Women National Football team (Super Falcons) any allowance or bonus.
“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 2nd Vice President said.
The Super Falcons staged a sit-in protest in their hotel in France, saying they wouldn’t leave until their outstanding bonuses are paid, ESPN reported on Sunday.
The footballers, who participated in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, but were eliminated by Germany in the Round of 16 on Saturday, said the NFF is owing bonuses from two games against Gambia and Senegal, from about 2 years ago. The total money is about N2million ($5,600).
They also claim they are being owed five days daily allowance while at the ongoing World Cup.
Speaking to ESPN, one player said: “They paid us 1 million [Naira] and said that is all. We want them to pay the balance. 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.”
She continued: “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 asking that their share of the World Cup participation fee be paid to them. However, organisers are scheduled to pay those fees from September.
Reacting to the news, NFF president, Amaju Pinnick said: “We have paid them everything they are being owed.”
He continued: “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 its statement released on Sunday, also made clarifications on payments to the team for preparations and participations at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
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 2019 in 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.
d) WAFU Cup Tournament (staged in Cote d’Ivoire): Allowance of $500 paid to each player.
e) Pre-World Cup camp in Austria: 14 days’ daily allowance $1,400 paid to each player.
f) Refund made to players on visa procurement, train, bus and airport taxi from their different bases in Europe to the camp in Austria.
g) $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.
Therefore, based on the foregoing facts, as at the time the Super Falcons set out to play Germany on Saturday 22nd June, the NFF had in spite of the challenges, ensured it met all its obligations to the players. 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.
Daily allowance is usually 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.
After the loss to Germany, the players raised the issue of their share of the prize money expected from FIFA. For qualifying to the Round of 16, the NFF is entitled to receive $1million from FIFA (being $750k qualification bonus and $250k for exiting at Round of 16.) The NFF duly reconfirmed to the team that they would be entitled to get 30% share of the fund from FIFA just like the men’s teams get (Super Eagles for World Cup/AFCON and Eagles B for CHAN) and were informed that these funds would only be available to NFF post-World Cup.
The issue of sharing formula with the team was as clarified and the matter was closed. Amazingly, the players later came to inform the NFF officials with the team that they heard that Cameroon and England teams have already been paid their share of participation fees by their Federations, and thus demand NFF paid them. They were informed that, if indeed Cameroon and England paid their players it was certainly not from FIFA money but other sources and there are 22 other countries that have not paid as well.
The NFF further reminded the players that, during the AWCON 2018 in Ghana the NFF decided to double their match bonuses as a motivation for them to win the trophy and other countries didn’t use that as benchmark to demand the same from their Federations. The entire issue was conclusively resolved throughout the night and the team duly left their hotel by morning enroute to Nigeria or to different holiday destinations.
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.
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