Embattled Nigerian sports minister Solomon Dalung believes the government is being embarrassed for the inefficiencies of the FIFA-protected Nigeria Football Federation, following the ongoing protest by the senior national women’s team after their victory at the recent Africa Women Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
The Super Falcons are currently holed up in their Agura Hotel base in Abuja and have refused to leave until their outstanding wages and bonuses – totaling almost $24,000 per player – are paid.
Addressing the issue on Thursday, Dalung lamented that the failure of the NFF – a body he says his ministry has no control over because of FIFA’s noninterference rule – to manage its affairs, is why the government is in the eye of the storm.
The excuse of noninterference according to FIFA rule has been used to harass and intimidate government. But now that the government is being embarrassed by the activities, I do not see anybody talking about interference, Dalung told state house reporters on Thursday.
They use it to scandalise the government, so the man who is at the receiving end has the responsibility to ensure that things must be done right so we must take steps to ensure that money meant for athletes get to them on time as and when due.
The controversial minister has however again hugged the headlines for the wrong reasons after offering a curious explanation for why funds were not available to pay the players, saying they had not expected the Super Falcons to win the tournament.
It is unfortunate that we are celebrating victory of the Super Falcons amidst some bitter feelings among the players because of some administrative lapses that were not managed properly, he said.
If the situation was explained to these girls, I do not think it would have gotten to this level. But we are working round to clock to ensure that what belongs to them legitimately is given to them. This has to do with government process.
One thing I always make clear is that the process of request for funds for sporting projects must come earlier to meet the objectives. Do not forget that nobody even knew the team would emerge victorious; if we were confident they will emerge victorious, all the federation would have done is to plan for process of participation and entitlement.
Dalung also acknowledged that the situation was even more dank as coaches and other officials were being owed, and stressed that the entire football administration in the country needs an overhaul.
It is a complex situation but the entire governance of football deserves an urgent surgery. If that surgery is not done, we will always live with the embarrassment. I am talking about the governance of football administration in Nigeria, he said