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A Trend of Nigeria national teams to now go on strike to demand for their entitlements calls for Financial Fair Play -By Issa Babatunde Ahmed

At the just concluded African Cup of Nations in Egypt the Super Eagles players’ also boycotted pre-match conference and evening’s training for Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tie with Guinea suffered a setback as a bonus row took centre stage.

Opinion Nigeria Staff

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Issah Babatunde Ahmed

Nigeria in recent time has been hit by a series of strikes in all sectors of private, public works and government civil servants. There is also the issue of official corruption, cronyism, lack of social delivery, clientelism and a burgeoning self-interest, buttressed by a vicious form and practice of extreme nepotism.

Unpaid allowances is becoming a model in Nigerian sports as sporting federations’ in the country cash strapped and besieged by corruption struggles to pay athletes their allowances at several tournaments. Like a custom and a seasonal affliction, the trends of Nigeria national teams to now go on strike to demand for their allowances during and after international competitions is expected each time they compete.

In recent months, the Nigeria U20 team embarked on a sit-in protest and refused to leave Poland after their elimination from the FIFA U20 World Cup in Russia, this same trend was followed by the women’s senior team at the Women’s World Cup in France, they also embarked on pay strikes to press for their entitlements which had FIFA stepped in after the players missed their transport to Paris and subsequently their flights, and the NFF were advised that any further expenses incurred by the team’s continued stay would be deducted from their participation fee.

At the just concluded African Cup of Nations in Egypt the Super Eagles players’ also boycotted pre-match conference and evening’s training for Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tie with Guinea suffered a setback as a bonus row took centre stage.

Super Eagles
Super Eagles of Nigeria

Most Sports Federations’ defence has always been that some of these major tournaments were not included in their budgets to the government and you begin to imagine why the administrators get paid so much but too lazy plan for a tournament you know your athletes will be participating and as well struggle to get sponsors for their teams, you barely hear the administrators go on strike or have issues over their own salaries but they fail woefully to take care of their athletes welfares and allowances.

There is a broiling cauldron of mass disaffection and discontent about the state of affairs and corruption by sports administrators in the country buttressed by the facts that athletes have gone public to seek funds for themselves to compete in a competition,  gone on strikes severally, administrators mismanaged funds budgeted for athletes and even sometimes hold on to funds for reasons only best known to them, got Nigeria threatened with a FIFA ban in 2010  and finally got Nigeria suspended from all international football  activities in 2014 after government interference, all in the name of personal gains and ulterior motives .

If their defence has always been that some of these major tournaments were not included in their budget to the government which means the government is involved then FIFA should come up with a financial fair play plan than liberates the likes of NFF from seeking funds from the government in order to start raising funds themselves through sponsorships, collaborations and marketing. If government interference is not accepted by world football governing body then funds from the government should not be accepted as well or should just be a complementary fund not major source of funds.

The UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations were agreed upon in 2009 and have ever since faced a lot of criticism and affected many clubs, including the likes of Inter Milan or Roma in Italy or most recently AC Milan, who were excluded from the Europa League but this could be extended to countries as well especially Africa who have been affected mostly due to bad administratorship in order to prevent countries from spending more than they earn and help avoid  from falling into long-term financial problems as they pursue short-term success.

A Financial Fair Play module should be introduced to countries to avoid disastrous atmospheres such as strike actions by athletes, the country should only compete in a competition if only it fits in the financial standard they earn and not solely rely on government, the Financial fair play module should also monitor funds earned by the federation to avoid misappropriations.

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