Nigeria’s national women’s football team have launched a protest against the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for withholding allowances as the African country experiences its first recession in more than a decade.
The Super Falcons have staged a sit-in at a hotel in the capital city of Abuja, having taken their eighth African title on Saturday yet not received payments for qualifying. Players also say they have not received any bonuses for their wins.
“We are tired of the lies and false promises from the NFF,” one player told BBC Sport. “They told us we would be paid before the tournament in Cameroon, but that never happened. We continued playing and now we are owed additional allowances and bonuses for winning the competition itself.
“We have made it clear to the NFF president and general secretary that we are going nowhere until all our monies from the qualifying and the competition in Cameroon have been paid.”
The Nigerian government is the NFF’s main source of funds, and with the country slipping into recession in August, times are economically fraught for the organization.
The latest growth figures showed Nigeria’s economy contracted by 2.06 percent between April and June. The country’s vital oil industry has been hit by weaker global prices, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, and the naira, the country’s currency, has fallen as a result.
NFF General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi met with the players and officials at the Agura Hotel on December 6 to explain the organization’s situation.
In a statement, he said that the Federation is not happy owing players and coaches, but that “all organizations, whether government or private, are feeling the pinch.”
“It is not government’s doing; it is not anybody’s doing,” he said. “We know we have financial commitment to you [players and officials of Super Falcons] and we have not at any time stated otherwise. But the money is not readily available at the moment.”
Sanusi asked for the players’ patience, and added that as soon as he heard from the Federal Government he would again be in touch with the team.
But players have said they would not cease their sit-in until they are paid. According to BBC Sport, one said: “They can’t treat the Super Eagles [the men’s national team] like this. The only thing we understand right now is for them to pay and stop making promises.”