Super Falcons Threaten Strike And World Cup Boycott As NFF Cancel Bonuses

The Super Falcons are considering a strike and boycott of their opening game of the 2023 Women’s World Cup after the Nigeria Football Federation’s General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, informed them that their match bonuses for the competition had been canceled by the federation.

The decision was arrived at after a lengthy meeting between six senior players: captain Onome Ebi, Rasheedat Ajibade, Asisat Oshoala, Ohale Osinachi, Tochukwu Oluehi, and Desire Oparanozie.

“We are going ahead to press for our demands. We are ready to go as far as missing our first game against Canada July 21 because this has to stop”a senior player told newsmen.

“On Wednesday night, we held a meeting where we agreed that we were going to find out if what we were asking for is legitimate, and that if it’s legitimate, we will press for our demands. It was what was agreed. The next meeting will be after we get the information we need and then the protest will start.” she added.

According to reports, before the Nigerian contingent left Abuja for the Women’s World Cup in Australia on July 2, Sanusi told the players in a meeting that the federation would not pay match bonuses because FIFA had already announced that every player would receive $30,000 in the group stage of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

It was also announced that the players would cease to get 30% of the $1,560,000 FIFA grants to all member associations for the World Cup competition’s group stage.

“The General Secretary came for the meeting clutching so many papers; he told us that we won’t be paid match bonuses at the World Cup because FIFA had already given each player $30,000 for the group stage. He also said we won’t get 30 per cent from the $1,560,000 FIFA would give the NFF.

“We were shocked, team morale went down immediately because we couldn’t believe what the man was saying,” one of the players said.

“One of the oldest players in the team asked him if FIFA would deduct the money ($30,000) they would give us from the $1.5m they gave the federation but he (Sanusi) said no. So, she said if its like that, then it shouldn’t affect our match bonuses. After several minutes of argument, Sanusi asked us if we would have preferred the $9,000 match bonus or the $30,000 from FIFA.”

Speaking on whether the coach of the team, Randy Waldrum, had instigated the players to stage “a coup” against the federation, the players refuted the allegation.

“That’s not true, it’s a ploy to distract Nigerians from the truth. Randy has no hand in this. We’ve been suffering this maltreatment and injustice long before he took charge of the team. When the team revolted after the 2018 WAFCON and the 2019 World Cup, was Randy with us? We are fighting a good cause, we don’t need anyone to push us. They should allow the coach to do his job.

“Since the federation is treating us like this, we have decided to stage a protest before the competition begins, so that the whole world will know what we are passing through. We can’t keep suffering and smiling.

“At the last World Cup, the same thing happened and we were shortchanged, we won’t allow this to happen any longer. They dare not treat the Super Eagles like this. Is it because we are women? We must put a stop to this this time around.”

At the time of filing this report, NFF President Ibrahim Gusau and Sanusi had yet to comment on the issue.

This will not be the first time the Falcons are involved in a bonus dispute with the NFF at an international tournament.

After winning the 2004 WAFCON in South Africa, the record African champions refused to travel back home, insisting they were paid their bonuses first.

Also, they conducted a sit-in protest at their Abuja hotel in 2016, after returning from Cameroon with an eighth WAFCON trophy, to press their requests for each player to be paid $16,500 after their victory.

Desire Oparanozie, the team’s captain, was stripped of her captaincy and expelled after leading a bonus protest at the 2019 World Cup in France, while the squad also boycotted training sessions before their third-place match against Zambia at last year’s WAFCON in Morocco over the same issue.

Credit: Chronicle, PUNCH

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