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We begged for money to celebrate Christmas – Flamingos players

Seventy-two days after defeating Germany to finish third at the U-17 Women’s World Cup in India, players and officials of the Flamingos have yet to receive their allowances and match bonuses, with some players telling The PUNCH that they had to practically beg for money to celebrate the holiday season.Information Guide Nigeria

The team’s bonuses for qualifying matches against Congo, Egypt, and Ethiopia have yet to be paid, according to information obtained by our correspondent.

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The bonuses for the World Cup matches against Chile, New Zealand, the United States of America, and Germany had not been paid to the Flamingos’ officials and players.

One of the athletes, who requested anonymity for fear of being victimised, revealed that she and her teammates asked for money to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s.

“The NFF is yet to pay us our match bonuses and some other benefits and these are what we need to survive,” the player told The PUNCH.

“Since we came back from India, we haven’t heard anything and we are already losing hope. Some of us are not as privileged as other kids and we had to beg for money to celebrate Christmas and New Year.”

Another Flamingos player added, “Christmas was hell for me because I was broke. This is because aside from the camp bonuses that were paid to us, we are yet to receive other bonuses and it is discouraging.

“Football is everything I know and it’s what I intend to use to take care of myself, but unfortunately we are still owed our match bonuses and other benefits from the qualifiers for the World Cup. I sent messages to relatives asking them to send me money to celebrate Christmas, but in reality, I should have been the one sending them money after playing at the World Cup.NYSC portal

“We learned that some individuals have redeemed their financial pledges to the team but we are yet to receive them from the NFF.

“President of the NFF, Ibrahim Gusau and Alhaji Balele both promised us $10,000 each for winning the third-place match, while the founder of Naija Ratels, Paul Edeh, also promised the team the sum of N3.1m. We hope the Presidency will help us because some of us are practically begging for money.”

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One of the outstanding players in the squad told The PUNCH, “Since I returned from the World Cup in August I haven’t visited my home state because nobody will believe a World Cup player can’t even buy socks for her friends.JAMB portal

“We played eight qualifiers to qualify for the World Cup and we were given just N50,000 each for qualification. At the World Cup proper, we were paid just $500 as camp allowance, while the NFF pledged to pay us our bonuses. As I speak with you, we haven’t heard from them. I couldn’t send anything home to my family for the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

“After we slept on bare floor at the Istanbul airport in Turkey, we were given just N40,000 each for transportation by road to our various states amid the insecurity in the country. They couldn’t even pay for our flights back home. And now they have refused to pay us our money.”JAMB Result

The General Secretary of the NFF, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, declined to comment on the matter, and directed our correspondent to the federation’s Communications Director, Ademola Olajire.

“They have not been paid but they will be paid,” Olajire said when contacted.  “I don’t work in the accounts (department) but I know that they will be paid whatever they are owed.”

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Emediong Silver

Emediong Ekpe is a graduate of English. A professional Sports journalist/analyst, and a spoken word artist. He is passionate about decimating information and putting smiles on people's faces via news writing.

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