Nigeria’s Players Have Enlisted Help to Ensure They Get Paid

by Pelican Press
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The members of Nigeria’s Women’s World Cup team announced Tuesday that they had restarted a long-running battle with their country’s soccer federation over missing paychecks and bonuses. Some of the overdue pay claims, the team said, go back more than two years.

To press their claims, the players have enlisted the help of soccer’s global players union, FIFPro.

The bitter fight over money had shadowed Nigeria’s preparations for the World Cup, and reportedly led the team to discuss taking the unprecedented step of boycotting its opening game in Australia. Instead, the players set aside their grievances long enough to advance to the round of 16, where they were eliminated by England in a penalty kick shootout on Monday.

On Tuesday, the team and the players issued a joint statement in which they said they would work together to press the Nigeria Football Federation “concerning bonus payments, camp allowances and expenses, some of which date back to 2021.”

“During the World Cup, the players expressed the desire to remain focused on their performance without making public statements or facing other distractions,” the statement said. “However, the Super Falcons believe that it is now time for the Nigeria Football Federation to honor their commitments and pay the outstanding amounts.”

Before the tournament, FIFPro had given its blessing to a new structure that guaranteed at least $30,000 in prize money to each player in the tournament, with even more due to players on teams that advanced out of the group stage. For a team like Nigeria, which was eliminated in the round of 16, that should mean payments of at least $60,000 per player.

That money will be paid to national federations, though, rather than directly to players, according to FIFA, world soccer’s global governing body and the organizer of the World Cup. On the eve of the tournament, FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, declined to guarantee that the players would get the bonus payments created for them.

“We are an association of associations,” FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino. “So any payments we do will be through the associations.”

The Nigerian players, and their coach, the American Randy Waldrum, have implied that could be a problem. Waldrum told a podcast before the World Cup that the Nigerian federation was still months behind on payments of his own salary to coach the team, and he also said the federation had not delivered hundreds of thousands of dollars provided by FIFA to Nigerian officials to pay for the team’s pre-World Cup preparations.

“Up until about three weeks ago, I had been owed about 14 months’ salary,” Waldrum said in July. “And then they paid seven months’ salary. We still have players that haven’t been paid since two years ago, when we played the summer series in the U.S.A. It’s a travesty.”

Now the players are seeking not only that money, but much more.

“The team is extremely frustrated that they have had to pursue the Nigeria Football Federation for these payments before and during the tournament and may have to continue doing so afterward,” the team’s statement with FIFPro said. “It is regrettable that players needed to challenge their own federation at such an important time in their careers.”

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