Abuja – The Sports Minister, Tammy Danagogo, on Wednesday said the Federal Government was probing the non-payment of the entitlements of the Super Eagles which led to the players’ protest in Brazil.
Danagogo told State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa in Abuja that the development, which occurred at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, was embarrassing and unfortunate.
He said it was mind-boggling that in spite of President Goodluck Jonathan’s approval of funds for the payment of all the players’ match bonuses and allowances, they were still not paid.
“We know that President Jonathan approved every kobo that we needed at the World Cup and it was promptly released. So, we didn’t need to have that problem.
“Even FIFA gives money for the same thing, and the players should get their money.
“So, there is no reason on this earth why the players should not get what they should get, because government has done everything and FIFA is saying it has done everything necessary,’’ the minister said.
He said he was unaware of the development until he met the players in Brazil before their 0-2 loss to France in the Round of 16 at the World Cup competition.
“The grumbling did not start at this World Cup. In fact, these boys have been bitter that right from the 2013 African Nations Cup in South Africa and the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, they have entitlements that are not paid.
“I wasn’t in the know of all these until I got to Brazil, and we (the National Sports Commission) did our best that was possible to intervene.
“The President of the Senate did everything possible to resolve the situation, and even President Jonathan came in and handled it as a father,’’ Danagogo added.
The Sports Minister insisted that mismanagement of funds was partly responsible for the crisis in the Nigeria Football Association (NFA).
He said the Super Eagles goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, and other young players who were considering retiring from the team were doing so “out of frustration over unpaid entitlements and other welfare issues’’.
Danagogo, however, assured Nigerians that government had put measures in place to ensure the welfare of players was taken care of.
He said government, in this regard, was footing the medical bills of the three players who were injured at the ongoing World Cup in hospitals of their choice around the world
On the Super Eagles’ performance at the World Cup, he said while it was not a disgraceful performance, it was also below what Nigerians expected.
“Nigeria is a country that has a pool of talents. We have such talents that can take us to the very highest level in football.
“But, unfortunately, we were unable to break the jinx of not going beyond the Round of 16. But we made it to the Round of 16, and that was not a disgraceful performance
“We expected that we should go further than that. But I think we have learnt our lessons from this outing, and we are beginning to look inwards.
“We are going back to the drawing board, and I can assure Nigerians that we will come out better and stronger in our next outings,’’ the Sports Minister said.(NAN)