The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), has said it will not be paying the Super Falcons, the Nigerian senior women national team, through the nation’s football governing body, the Nigerian football federation (NFF).
The development is not unconnected to the controversy and corruption that have dogged the payment of bonus and monetary benefits that the players are entitled to.
The Super Falcons are participating in the ongoing FIFA women world cup in Australia and New Zealand. They will be facing England in the round of 16 after finishing second in group B behind host nation, Australia.
Addressing the players after their match against Ireland on Monday, the Secretary-General of FIFA Ms Fatma Samoura noted that “it has been tough” and that they had to “face the reality of Nigeria.”
She informed the players that it is because of players like them that FIFA decided to pay prize money directly to players.
She, however, added that for the first time, the prize money would be paid to them – players – because of such realities.
Recall that former Arsenal player and football pundit Ian Wright called out the Nigeria Football Federation after the Super Falcons historic win against Australia on last Thursday, urging the NFF to pay them
“It is because of you that for the first time in the history of FIFA, the FIFA women world cup prize money will be paid directly to you, the players,” Samoura said, amid cheers from the nine-time African champions.
After a stunning win against hosts Australia, Wright took to social media to send out his message of support for the Nigerians.
“Pay them!!!!!” he wrote, lending his voice to the country’s continuing dispute between players and governing body.
The issues surrounding payment of bonuses and other financial benefits to players have become an integral part of Nigeria’s national football team.
It, however, became a serious issue in the Nigerian women’s football during the preparation for the FIFA women world cup with the players threatening to boycott their first match of the competition against Canada who are also in the middle of a pay dispute with their own FA seeking equal pay and support with the men’s team.
The manager Randy Waldrum was vocal in his criticisms over the treatment of his players. His previous complaints include disagreements over unpaid wages, poor travel arrangements and the cancellation of a pre-tournament camp leading up to the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The Nigerian squad even resorted to enlisting the help of global players’ union FIFPRO over the matter.
“I know we are not prepared the way we need to be … I’ve been very frustrated with the federation and the lack of support,” he said on the Sounding off on Soccer podcast, Daily Mail reports. “We were supposed to have a camp for 10 to 12 days in Nigeria before going to Australia for another 10 to 15 days, but the federation cancelled the home camp. “We have less days than a College pre-season to prepare for the World Cup, and it blows my mind because we’ve known about this since last year.” His grievances and complaints were expectedly greeted with disdain and disapproval from the NFF. Federation representative Ademola Olajire called for Waldrum to ‘simply concentrate on the task at hand’.
However, Samoura commended the Super Falcons for progressing at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, a first-ever for an African team at the competition.
According to Samoura, their feat brought joy to women’s football as a whole with their elegance and self-assuredness on the pitch, as well as African women’s football and the African girl-child.
“I must say that I am proud of you. As you know, I am the first woman to be Secretary General of FIFA since the organisation was founded in 1904, and I am also an African. So, I am easily excited by any accomplishment that glorifies women’s football and African football,” she said.
The FIFA scribe who was in company with Nigeria’s leader of the delegation, Chief Felix Anyansi-Agwu and others, described the Super Falcons as the “best team of Africa”. She said their performance would inspire other African teams at the tournament. “You have won one match here, as Morocco and Zambia, but you are the only team that has made it to the knock-out stage yet. I am also excited because when FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced my name as the new FIFA Secretary-General, I was in Nigeria working for the United Nations. So, Nigeria is a second home for me. “You should continue to believe in yourselves and play as a team, and be ready to lift the African flag higher in this tournament.”
Osasu Obayiuwana, a British-Nigerian journalist, who posted the video on Twitter, noted that Samoura had mandated FIFA’s Director for Africa, Gelson Fernandes, to ensure that the players received the money as she would be leaving soon. Samoura is leaving after seven years as the highest-profile woman working in the world football governing body.
However, she will stay in the job through the ongoing Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and leave at the end of the year.
Obayiuwana wrote in a post on his Twitter account: “It is because of you (the @NGSuper_Falcons) that for the first time in the history of @FIFAcom, the #FIFAWWC prize money will be paid directly to you, the players.” “@fatma_samoura, @FIFAcom Secretary-General said this to the #Nigeria players in the dressing room of… “Even though @fatma_samoura will be leaving #FIFA in a few months, I am told that @GelsonFernandes, FIFA’s director for Africa, has been given the mandate by her, to ensure that the money is received by the players. “Right now, every @NGSuper_Falcons player is entitled to $60k each.”