By Harry Awurumibe,
Women’s Football expert
Ordinarily one will not spend time to talk about the furore surrounding Nigeria’s senior women’s football team, Super Falcons recent acts of fighting hard off the pitch to demand for money instead of doing well in the field of play.
The Director of Communications of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Ademola Olajire has in a press statement yesterday in Abuja put the records straight in the claim by the Super Falcons that they were not paid their entitlements by the NFF.
In a very detailed statement, the Federation has exonerated itself of the malicious and baseless allegations of owing the team and there is nothing more to add to that just as it has become imperative for something to be done about the recent trend of Falcons players going up in arms to demand for money even when they have been paid.
As an apostle of Women’s Football in Nigeria for three decades now and an advocate of better treatment/welfare package for the women’s footballers I can’t look the other way when actions and inaction that will dampen the interest of people to continue to support women’s football are been perpetuated by the players themselves.
No wonder many a journalists do not appear to be interested in promoting women’s football of all sports because of the many stories that emanate from there. For some of us who are still championing the course of women’s football, it has been the passion that is driving us to keeping promoting the game.
Again, as the Special Assistant to NFF President on Women’s Football Affairs, I have risked been called a “busy body” for constantly advocating for the welfare of the women’s football players and officials.
The NFF President, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, the Executive Board members and General Secretary, Dr. Sanusi Mohammed have all supported the Super Falcons more than any regime has done. And Pinnick has always listened to every idea/ advice I have pushed to him for the Good of Women’s Football.
For the first time in the history of women’s football in Nigeria Falcons players received a winning bonus of $10, 000 dollars for one match as Pinnick promised and delivered to them in the last AWCON in Ghana. They got paid that and other free-cash from wealthy Nigerians and corporate bodies running into millions of naira for each player when they returned to Nigeria.
For the first time too, the Super Falcons were kept busy from January this year after they participated in the China Invitational, moved tp Cyprus in March, went to Spain in April, WAFU Cup in Ivory Coast in May and ended up at world class high performance training camp- Avita Sports Camp in Austria before landing in France for the Women’s World Cup final.
This team was prepared more than ever before by the same NFF they are fighting. This is not how to repay the Federation that has changed the face of women’s football in Nigeria.
However, for those of us that knows there are a combined internal and external forces working hard in the team to destroy the NFF and the game. I may not be wrong to suggest that a certain foreign football agent based in the Scandinavian country have been in the middle of brainwashing the Nigerian players abroad and feeding them with false information on the financial standing of NFF.
This fellow has many times instigated mutiny in the Super Falcons by telling those players based in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland that NFF has collected money from FIFA but fail to pay them. He has made it a point of duty to tell the players that NFF has collected money but don’t want to pay the players.
He confirmed to me that he is currently in France for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and I believe he was the person who tried to instigated the Super Falcons by giving them false information that FIFA has paid the NFF Participation Fee.
It is this external conspiracy and internal betrayal that is fueling the Pay-Us-Our Money syndrome in the Super Falcons. The above is the new cancer in the women’s football in Nigeria at the moment. And the players have fallen for it. I will have an advice for them next time.
Having pointed out where the rain started beating Nigeria, I will next time proffer solution and ways to halt this dangerous slid and put these shenanigans at bay going forward.
I rest my case.