Since their arrival in Abuja days ago, Nigeria’s senior women’s national team have refused to leave their hotel until the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) pay up all their allowances and bonuses for clinching the 10th Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.
With a late Desire Oparanozie goal on Saturday, the Super Falcons lifted their eighth African title at the expense of Cameroon – who had a sold-out crowd backing them – to reaffirm their superiority on the continent. But they returned home with the trophy, to the sorry tale of “no money.”
And according to the BBC, one of the players, who prefers to remain anonymous, has insisted that their sit-in protest at the Agura hotel will continue until their outstanding bonuses and allowances which dates back to qualifying, are paid.
“We are tired of the lies and false promises from the NFF,” the player told BBC Sport.
“They told us we would be paid before the tournament in Cameroon, but that never happened.
“We continued playing and now we are owed additional allowances and bonuses for winning the competition itself.
“We have made it clear to the NFF president and general secretary that we are going nowhere until all our monies from the qualifying and the competition in Cameroon have been paid.”
In April, the Super Falcons were only given N10,000 (US$30) as transport allowance after they had sealed qualification for the Women’s AFCON in Cameroon, with the NFF promising to pay them their allowances and win bonuses of US$6,500 before the start of the competition.
With the tournament now done and dusted, the NFF will have to pay an additional US$17,150, which covers the duration of the competition, bringing the total monies being owed to US$23,650 per player.
This brings back embarrassing memories of the Africa Women Championship in South Africa 2004, when the Super Falcons team remained in their hotel in South Africa for three days after the Nigeria Football Association had failed to pay their bonuses for winning the competition.
Only recently the nation’s U-20 Women’s team also refused to leave their hotel on their return from the World Cup in Papua New Guinea after the NFF gave them a paltry N10,000 for their efforts at the competition.
The NFF have however, never hidden the fact that they are broke, and so it was expressed in a statement by its general secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, who met with the players and officials at the Agura Hotel on Tuesday.
“The NFF is not happy owing players and coaches, but present severe economic challenges inform that it can only continue to seek the understanding of these persons, as well as hoteliers, travel agents, management and staff until the situation improves,” Sanusi said in the statement.
“All organisations, whether government or private, are feeling the pinch.
“We know we have financial commitment to you (players and officials of Super Falcons) and we have not at any time stated otherwise. But the money is not readily available.
“I have come to appeal to you, to understand the situation of the federation, to understand the situation of the country at the present and exercise patience.
“We will pay you all monies you are being owed as soon as we receive same from the government.”
But as it is, the players do not seem to trust in the Nigeria Football Federation anymore, even as they hold on to their trophy.