Golden Eaglets angry with Presidency over non-payment of World Cup allowances
THEY were branded ‘heroes of our time’ after conquering the rest of the world to win Nigeria’s fifth FIFA U-17 World Cup title last week in Chile.
The Presidency and Nigerians from all walks of life applauded the boys for “the exemplary zeal, determination, commitment, hard work, patriotism and soccer artistry” they displayed throughout the tournament.
Nigeria becoming the first country to win the title for a fifth time was the biggest story of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015.
But a few days after, the players are unhappy, lamenting what they called ‘deliberate attempt’ on the part of the Federal Government to turn their moment of joy to sorrow.
Unlike in the past, when such victorious teams were accorded the best reception, including cash rewards, players of the Golden Eaglets were allegedly handed a paltry N20,000 each, as they were disbanded in Abuja last Thursday. The money, according to the players, could not even fetch them flight tickets to take them home to see their loved ones.
Now, the players are beginning to speak out their mind, pointing accusing fingers at the Presidency.
“I was told the Presidency is yet to approve the budget submitted by the NFF for our participation in the World Cup and that is not good enough, one of the players, a striker, told The Guardian yesterday, pleading anonymity. “As I speak with you, we are yet to get our winning bonuses for some of the matches we played in Chile. The NFF is telling us not to speak with anybody concerning it (the non-payment), but for how long?” he asked.
Another player, a midfielder, who also spoke with The Guardian yesterday said: “The fact that we are young players does not mean that we don’t need money. Since we returned from Chile, it is expected that we show some appreciation to some of our friends and relations, who prayed for our success in the World Cup. We couldn’t buy gift from Chile because the money was not there.
Our Senators and House of Representatives members should come to our aid. We don’t even know if President Muhammadu Buhari will host us or not.
But they should make money available for our camp allowances and winning bonuses.”
No official of the NFF and the National Sports Commission was willing to speak on the issue yesterday.