Nigeria: We’re not able to pay Falcons because we didn’t expect them to win – Sports Minister
Nigeria’s Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, on Thursday said that funds are not availableto pay allowances of Super Falcons who won the African Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) trophy last Saturday because the team was not expected to win.
The victorious female footballers in Abuja on Wednesday seized the trophy and have refused to vacate their hotel rooms for five days.
According to Mr. Dalung, their footballers’ victory took the government by surprise as proper arrangements were not made.
Speaking with State House correspondents over the embarrassing development, Dalung said that if the NFF was confident of the victory in Cameroon, it would have applied for and processed the funds for their bonuses early enough to avoid the ugly aftermath.
He said that government needed to perform a ‘surgery’ on the sports sector otherwise, similar occurrences are bound to happen again.
“It is unfortunate that we are celebrating victory of the Super Falcons amidst some bitter feelings among the players because of some administrative lapses that were not managed properly.
“If the situation was explained to these girls I don’t think the situation would have gotten to this level. But we are working round to clock to ensure that what belongs to them legitimately is given to them. This has to do with government process.
“One thing I always make clear is that the process of request for funds for sporting projects must come earlier to meet the objectives. Don’t forget that nobody even knew the team would emerge victorious, if we were confident they will emerge victorious, all the Federation would have done is to plan for process of participation and entitlement.
“It is already established in sports tradition, when you win this is what you are entitled to. The situation is highly unfortunate and I don’t like it. These girls have given confidence to women who want to embrace sports but this will go a long way in killing this laudable achievement. It is unfortunate but we will make sure the right thing is done,” he said.
He added that the team’s coaches are owed backlog of salaries.
“It is a complex situation but the entire governance of football deserves an urgent surgery. If that surgery is not done we will always live with the embarrassment. I’m talking about the governance of football administration in Nigeria.”
“They use it to scandalise the government so the man who is at the receiving end has the responsibility to ensure that things must be done right so we must take steps to ensure that money meant for athletes get to them on time as at when due.”