Falcons reject Dalung’s appeal, continue protest


‘Tana Aiyejina and Idris Adesina

The protesting Super Falcons players have insisted on being paid their bonuses and allowances by the Nigeria Football Federation.

The senior women’s national team have been protesting against the non-payment of their entitlements after winning the 2016 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Cameroon. They have refused to leave the Agura Hotel, Abuja, where they were lodged since returning from the competition.

Our correspondents learnt that the players are owed bonuses and allowances from the qualifiers for the 2016 AWCON up till their final match against Cameroon last Saturday, which they won 1-0 to lift the trophy for the eighth time.

The NFF reportedly owes each player up to $25,000 but the federation said it has yet to raise the funds to settle the debt.

The Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, alongside officials of the ministry and the NFF visited the players on Thursday to plead with them, but the players insisted that they would only call off the protest  if given their entitlements.

“We are still waiting for them to bring our money because we won’t leave here until we are paid. The minister came to see us today (Thursday) and said they were working on our money. It’s the same old story,” one of the players said.

The players are angry that the officials are insensitive to their plight and are not confident they will keep to their promise of paying them their allowances.

One of them said, “Can you  imagine that the NFF president is outside the country while we have not been paid?”

The General Secretary of the federation, Mohammed Sanusi, also pleaded with the players, saying the NFF would pay them once the funds were raised, but some of the players, who pleaded anonymity, said they would not leave the hotel until they were paid.

“It is a sad thing that we will work hard for the country under tough conditions and we will still not be paid what is due to us,” one of the players said.

“We have learnt from what happened to the other teams after their outings at the World Cup and we cannot afford to let the same happen to us. All we want is our money and nothing more.”

Another player said, “It is very bad that none of those in power have deemed it fit to look into our case. Is it until we take to the streets that they will pay us? Some of are breadwinners of our families and we need to get bills settled for the yuletide.

“The title we won gave us joy but we will be happier if they pay us what we rightfully worked for. We don’t want much, just our bonuses and allowances before and at the tournament, then we will leave here. ”

Meanwhile, doctors have told experienced central defender Onome Ebi that she will return to football in February after she fractured her right arm in the explosive final against the Cameroonians. The 33-year-old  Ebi had a successful surgery at the National Hospital, Abuja, on Tuesday.

“The Plaster of Paris would be removed from my hand in two weeks but doctors say I will be back on the field in two months’ time,” the FC Minsk defender stated.