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FIFA’s Masterstroke Against Nigeria – Phil Alalibo

By Prof. Phil Alalibo | NNP | August 05, 2023 – The recent announcement by a FIFA scribe, Ms. Fatma Samoura, that FIFA would pay the players’ prize money (for the Super Falcons that is minimum of $60,000 each for making the knock-out round of 16) directly to the players rather than passing it through their federation as has been the practice since it’s inception, underscores the decay in the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF). For the first time in the history of the football governing body, which was founded in 1904, 119 years ago, players will get their bonuses paid directly to them by FIFA.

The scribe made it clear that this policy change is solely due to the lack of transparency, corruption and incompetence of the NFF. While these were not her exact words, the undertone of her words reflect this reality. The following were her words while addressing the team in the locker room after their last group match against the Republic of Ireland; “It has been tough,” and she added that the players had to “face the reality of Nigeria.” She continued, “It is because of you (Super Falcons) 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,”  she said, amid cheers from the 11-time African champions. This is a masterstroke against the NFF and a swipe across the face of Nigeria. Federation officials who must have entertained many unwholesome ideas about the coming prize money and preparing excuses for the players as to why their prize money has not been paid must be licking their chops on this missed opportunity.

Nigerian football fans are not surprised at this announcement as the federation is notorious for its longstanding incompetence and corruption. Similarly, the revelation by coach Randy Waldrum that the NFF has not paid his salary in 14 months and owing players’ bonuses up to two years is also not surprising as that has been the modi operandi of the NFF. What would have been surprising is the antithesis – that Randy Waldrum is owed no salary and all players’ bonuses have been paid up to date.

There is no reason for NFF to owe its coaches and players when these funds are provided for in the annual budget. The federation does have the money to pay its coaches and players’ bonuses, but somehow those funds mysteriously disappear, embezzled and/or misappropriated. In addition to the revelation that he is owed 14 months’ salary and players owed bonuses from two years, the coach also stated that there was very little preparation leading to the World Cup, despite FIFA providing $960,000 plus for the NFF to prepare the team. This is concerning and should be investigated.

The coach stated that the team was supposed to camp in Nigeria for 10-12 days and another 10 days or so in Australia before the World Cup kicks-off. However, the plan was cancelled, and the team didn’t have quality preparation for the biggest football tournament in the world. How serious is the NFF? Must they display their incompetence and lack of transparency at every opportunity?

It is worth noting that in addition to the preparation funds quoted above, FIFA will also provide $1.5 million USD to each team as a base and the money increases as the team progresses in the tournament. With a round of 16 berth, the NFF will receive $1.8 million. From this fund, the NFF is supposed to pay players’ bonuses for each match played, based on a formula of win, draw or lose. But to the surprise of the players, NFF stated that they would not get any more bonuses beyond what is paid directly by FIFA.  This is despite the fact that the $1.5 million (or $1.8 million) is separate from the bonuses FIFA intends to pay directly to the players. Therefore, the conclusion must be that the players’ bonuses from the $1.5m ( or $1.8 million) is likely to end up in NFF officials’ pockets.

A well-meaning federation would be happy to reward its players for their sacrifices and for making the country proud as the Super Falcons have done by being the first African team not to concede defeat in the group stages. They have also defeated and tied two supposed top ten teams in their group – Canada and Australia.  But that cannot be the NFF, which seeks every opportunity to dribble the players and coaches on financial matters.  With their attitude, one is left to question their commitment to the team, country and the game.

NFF’s well publicized feud with Coach Randy Waldrum is not surprising to Nigerians who have been frustrated by the unsavoury antics of the federation for decades. Other coaches have been frustrated as well but less courageous to go public like the Texas-born coach. Waldrum is one of the better coaches this team has had in decades. He has proven to be a quality coach and a well-respected tactician. His frustrations with the NFF is understandable and justified.

And the NFF would be good for it if they heed his advice to be accountable and give coaches and players their dues instead of plotting his demise with a sack letter. That the federation sought to sack (but for the spirited intervention of a board member) the coach days before the start of the biggest women’s football competition is telling of the unsophisticated approach and egoistic mindset of the federation officials. Because he bruced their egos by revealing their incompetence to the world, he must go at all cost not minding the adverse impact such irrational decision would have on the team and players’ emotional well-being.

FIFA’s masterstroke against Nigeria and the NFF should serve as a lesson for the federation officials to change their ways, and to be introspective, a process we hope would lead to transparency, probity, accountability and honest administration of football in the country.

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Posted by on Aug 5 2023. Filed under Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists, P, Soccer, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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