The Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, on Friday said times are hard and it expected the Super Falcons to understand.
In a statement by Ademola Olajire, NFF’s Director of Media and Communications, the Federation thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for coming to its rescue.
“We are grateful to the Presidency for the prompt action, and we believe this will put the minds of the players at rest.
“It has been a very difficult time for the NFF; no official of the Federation was happy that the players and officials could not be paid their entitlements immediately after the tournament.
“It is not as if the Federation did not plan to pay the players and officials their entitlements. The NFF expected some money from a number of sources but this did not work out.
“They are champions and deserve to be treated as such; there are no doubts about that.
The statement added that contrary to reports the Federation never abandoned the players.
“The NFF is at the receiving end of all these, but at the end of the day, fair is fair.
“Before they left for Cameroon, the country’s Vice President went to meet with them at a training session.
“Also, despite the difficulties, the Federation was able to make the sum of $5,000 available to the Team Administrator for logistics.
The NFF President personally visited the team and prayed with them.”
Olajire added that “Before the team played South Africa in the semifinals, the NFF reached out to some sources and raised money to pay each player the sum of N500,000.
“The NFF President was on the tarmac of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos to receive the team and celebrated with them on arrival.
“He also impressed it on NFF partner Emzor to host the ladies to lunch and the company gave the team the sum of N1.6million.
“On arrival in Abuja, the team was received by the NFF General Secretary, Head of Protocol, Head of Women’s Football and the CEO of Jedo (a private organization), Dr. Aliyu Oroje Wammako.
“The NFF impressed it on the management of Agura Hotel to ensure the comfort of the players and officials while the Federation went about trying to raise money to pay their entitlements,’’ it said.
The statement further said, “Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung who personally visited the team at their hotel, NFF General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi was at the hotel on two occasions.
“Also, the Head of Women’s Football, Ruth David has been at the hotel on regular basis.
“After his visit, the Honourable Minister directed that the NFF should look for money to give to the players to take them home.
“The players appealed that the amount of N50,000 proposed by the Federation should be doubled, and the NFF squeezed out N100,000 to each player and official.
“Surprisingly, the players said they would no longer leave the hotel even after that payment,’’ the statement said.
It added that “While the monies paid to the team so far may not amount to much, these are challenging times and we expect the players to understand with the Federation.
“They did not, but we thank God all these issues are almost behind us.
“This unfortunate situation calls for calm and patience on the part of all. The NFF cannot praise the Presidency enough.
“The players cannot say that nobody came to see them in the hotel, or that the Federation ordered that they be ejected; that is not correct.
“We passionately appeal to the players not to allow themselves to be used by some persons against the Federation and the Federal Government, as such persons do not mean well for them,’’ the statement said.