Africa Cup of Nations: Nigeria players’ strike averted after payment
The threat of another pay row by Nigeria players ahead of their final group game against Madagascar at the Africa Cup of Nations has been averted after the country’s football federation (NFF) paid them outstanding bonuses and allowances until 30 June.
The build-up to their second game was overshadowed by a bonus row which led to a player shunning the pre-match news conference and the squad arriving late for training on Tuesday.
But the NFF moved on the Friday deadline and agreed with the players’ wishes by depositing money in their individual accounts to cover allowances and bonuses for the two victories in Egypt.
“We appreciate the federal government and the NFF for their swift reaction,” team spokesman Toyin Ibitoye told BBC Sport.
“It’s important that all those distractive comments are no longer associated with this team and our focus is solely on the football pitch now.”
The BBC understands that the team, which has been together since early June, has now received camp allowances from 9 to 30 June.
Nigeria’s vice-captain Ahmed Musa insists the players have always stayed focus amid all the distractions and money crisis.
“We told ourselves that football will always come first because that’s why we are here,” he said.
“Once we all realised that the issue will be resolved whenever the NFF is ready, we kept the focus on football and let them handle talks off the pitch.”
Pay rows have often surrounded Nigerian teams, while players have boycotted training during important qualifiers or at major tournaments over unpaid fees.
Their 2014 World Cup campaign was affected by a bonus row, with players boycotting training before the last-16 fixture against France as they demanded their bonuses and appearance fees.
Nigeria’s women’s team – the Super Falcons – has twice been involved in sit-in protests at hotels in South Africa and in Abuja, Nigeria, to demand money owed to them, with their latest protest coming at the Women’s World Cup in France. BBC Sport