NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, said in Abuja, yesterday that the challenges and disruptions caused by the global coronavirus pandemic are still being felt by government institutions and businesses the world over, and there was no need to pretend that these are normal times.
“The NFF derives no joy in owing players and coaches their entitlements. The same players and coaches have been well-taken-care-of and provided the necessary facilities when things were normal, and as we work assiduously towards conquering the present challenges and seeing sunlight again, we expect the players, coaches, and administrative staff to show the same level of understanding that they have been showing over the past 18 months.
“Of course, we are pragmatic and we realise that these things can be frustrating and some people will boil over and talk about them. It is normal. Last month, during the friendlies in Austria, we were able to pay some of the outstanding bonuses and allowances. We are working at a pace presently to clear what is remaining. As I speak, we are owing to the team bonuses and allowances from only the last two matches, and payments for these two games have been sent to the Central Bank some weeks ago. They will receive the monies shortly. We are equally working to pay the coaches what they are being owed as salaries.”
Dr. Sanusi’s comments were in direct reference to a statement credited to Super Eagles defender, Leon Balogun on Tuesday saying the NFF owed the players bonuses and allowances. “We have never denied owning the team. Leon is a senior player that everyone respects for his quality output on the pitch and calmness and forbearance off it, but I do not know which reports he was referring to when he said the NFF was contradicting itself.
“He also talked about playing pitches. Sincerely speaking, the past few years have seen a remarkable improvement in stadia infrastructure across the country. The team had to move around the states because the turf of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja got bad. Now, the pitch is coming back to shape thanks to the efforts of the present Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Chief Sunday Dare, who got the respected Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s company to work on it.
“Presently, we have exciting venues in Uyo, Benin City, Asaba, Kaduna, and Lagos. Without the team moving around the governments of these states probably would not have devoted much effort into putting their facilities in shape. There are remarkable improvements in facilities in Ibadan, the National Stadium in Lagos and a new one in Lagos. All these will benefit the teeming youth population of Nigeria who are interested in sports.”