On the heels of the news that Ghana sent a plane to Brazil loaded with millions of dollars in cash to pay their World Cup squad, comes news that Nigeria’s world cup team missed a critical day of training amid squabbles over bonus pay. Reports from their training camp confirm the Super Eagles canceled a training session on Thursday to talk about money.
It’s the third pay dispute involving an African team. Cameroon arrived one day late in Brazil after players refused to travel until bonuses were agreed. Of the five African teams in Brazil—Nigeria, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Cameroon—three of them have had their World Cup ambitions nearly derailed by pay issues.
According to the BBC, “Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has assured the country’s senior players at the World Cup that the squad will be paid their bonus money”.
USA Today reports FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke says action is needed after Ghana players threatened not to play Portugal Thursday until money arrived from Africa, saying, “it’s sad that we end up with such a story where they were talking in some way about a strike. The fact that the money came in cash is also sad.”
He also stresses the soccer governing body will take steps against issues of pay seriously distracting from play again saying FIFA “we will make sure” that participating national associations show written agreements of paying players by bank transfer.
Unfortunately, pay disputes is not new to African teams. Remember Togo at the World Cup in 2006? At the core is a lack of trust between players and their national federations: That the money promised to players before a World Cup is actually ponied up.
Ghana and Cameroon were sent packing after failing to qualify for the World Cup knockout stage. Ghana just one day after the money was flown in.
Nigeria and Algeria are the only two teams left standing from the continent. With Nigeria gearing up to play France, a team that has burning it up in Brazil conventional thinking should be a singular focus on training and conditioning not worries about compensation.
Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo said in a statement “We have reached this stage of the tournament, which is a special privilege, and we cannot afford to let the whole of Africa and especially Nigeria down. So please … allow us to focus on our football and nothing else.”
It’s Nigeria’s first game in a World Cup knockout stage since 1998 and the first time more than one African nation has made it into the second round at a World Cup.
Hopefully we can see them just play ball.
Check out the story here to learn more about the impasse.