Fans want FG to wade into Supporters Club’s crisis
For the first time in many decades, virtually all members of the Supporters Club were denied entry visa by the Canadian Embassy in Nigeria, thereby stopping them from teaming up with their counterparts here in Canada to cheer the Super Falcons through the usual singing and drumming in the on-going FIFA Women’s World Cup.
About 300 members of the Club, who applied for Canada visa to travel to World Cup, were turned back by the Embassy, no thanks to the long crisis that had rocked the Supporters Club.
In the build-up to Brazil 2014 World Cup, former President Goodluck Jonathan gave the Supporters Club N50 million. There were additional money into the club’s account, including a donation from telecommunication giant, Globacom and Guinness Plc.
While in Brazil, majority of the supporters alleged that they were shortchanged, accusing the club’s President, Rafiu Ladipo, of operating a ‘one-man’ show.
Some other members pointed accusing fingers at the National Chairman of the body, Okumagba, of working with some ‘bad elements’ within the family to cry wolf where there was none. Okumagba also described such allegation as baseless.
But the crisis has refused to die down since Brazil 2014 World Cup. In fact, some of the members have written several petitions, alleging fraud against the two leaders, Ladipo and Okumagba.
While some want the leaders to account for the N50 million given by the Federal Government, some want the duo of Ladipo and Okumagba to tell the world how Adenuga’s cash donation to the Supporters Club was spent. They want explanation of how Adenuga’s Sterling Bank paid money was withdrawn ‘without signature.’
There are also big questions on how the leaders spent the millions of naira donated by Guinness Plc to the club in the build up to Brazil 2014 World Cup.
It was learnt that majority of the members, who paid their N300,000 levy, but could not make the trip to Brazil, are still angry over the ‘inability’ of the leaders to refund their money.
Some aggrieved members were said to have fired series of petitions to the Canadian Embassy not to honour the visa application by the two factions for the trip to Canada 2015 World Cup.
Here in Winnipeg, venue of Super Falcons group D games in the on-going Canada 2015 Women’s World Cup, the inability of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club (NFSC), to make the trip has become a talking point.
Some Nigerians residing in Canada are of the opinion that those causing trouble within the Supporters Club don’t mean well for Nigerian football.
“Before I relocated from Nigeria for Canada about a decade ago, I didn’t appreciate the good work of the Supporters Club whenever I saw them on television drumming and dancing during international matches,” Olushola Muyuwa, a native of Ekiti State, told The Guardian in a chat shortly before the Falcons took on Australia in their second group game on Friday.
“Last year, when the Nigerian U-20 Women’s team, Falconets, came to Canada, I came so close to the supporters club and I fell in love with the way they do things, especially when it comes to giving support to the team. I can tell you that members of the Supporters Club do a lot of selfless services to the nation by using their personal money to embark on some of these trips. I want the Federal Government of Nigeria to wade into their problem, especially, to bring the Ladipo group and that of Okumagba together for the interest of our football.,” Muyuwa said.
Also speaking with The Guardian on absence of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club here in Canada, another Nigerian resident in Winnipeg, Dr. Solomon Akpitie, descried as unfortunate the refusal by the Canadian Embassy in Nigeria to turn down the visa of the Supporters Club members.
“What are their reasons for denying them visa to Canada? I know very well that many of them (Supporters Club members) have travelled to many countries in the past. I saw them drumming support for the Super Eagles in USA, Britain, Brazil, Australia and Germany. They came back to Nigeria without any of them running away in those countries. I also remember that FIFA had adjudged the Nigeria Supports Club as the best Supporters Club in the world at a time, so, why would Canada Embassy deny them visa this time?” Akpitie asked.
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