Sand Eagles Threatens To Boycott 2017 Beach Soccer

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The national beach soccer team are heading for a showdown with the Nigeria Football Federation after the NFF allegedly shortchanged them at the end of the Lagos 2016 Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations.

Nigeria lost 8-4 to Senegal in the final of the December 13-18 tournament at the Atlantic City in Lagos.

However, the Super Sand Eagles qualified for the Bahamas 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup along with Senegal.

It was learnt that the players had expected to be paid at least $1,000 ($3,000 each for winning three games) win bonus by the NFF but were shocked when the federation paid each of them N500,000, including camp allowances, for their efforts.

It was learnt that the team had wanted to boycott their semifinal match against Morocco, but the NFF’s NFF vice-president, Seyi Akinwunmi, pleaded with them to play the game.

Sources close to the team said that the players, who are angry at being paid a pittance, would boycott the World Cup unless they were sure of getting “something reasonable” for representing their country.

“It was really a national sacrifice that the beach soccer team made to qualify for the World Cup,” one of the players, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday.

“The conditions in camp cannot be described because we didn’t even have access to the competition ball and other necessary kits. We were treated like orphans in our camp in Badagry (in Lagos) for more than five weeks.

“Our first touch of a real ball was at the COPA Lagos yet we didn’t even complain. Some journalists visited the camp but we told them that everything was fine because we hoped that the NFF would do us well if we got the World Cup ticket.”

The source added, “As of today, the NFF is still owing the coach (Adamu Ejo) and he isn’t even complaining. When the competition began, we were not told what we would be paid. We were just told to go and play.

“All through our camping, not a dime was paid to us. We wanted to protest before the semifinal against Morocco but Seyi Akinwunmi pleaded with us to get the ticket for the World Cup and promised that they would settle us.”

It was learnt that the NFF gave each of the players N50,000 as transport fare to return home, promising to paid them their entitlements later.

Another source said, “But we later got alerts of N500,000 each, which wasn’t even explained. Some of us asked why we were paid such a little money, but we were told that was what the federation could afford to give us.

“But the players have decided that they may not honour the call-ups for the World Cup except the NFF states clearly what is due us for a win, a draw or a loss, as well as our camp allowances.

“If that is not done, Nigeria may not play at the World Cup because we believe that we have been cheated by the federation. We are not demanding to be paid like the Super Eagles but we want to be respected as a national team. We want something reasonable.”

Spokesman for the NFF, Ademola Olajire, said that he was not aware of how much the players were paid.

“The Super Eagles are paid in naira for their home matches and in dollars for away games. For a win, each player gets N1m while they get N500,000 for a draw,” he said.

“But for the Sand Eagles, I am not aware of how much they were paid or how much their allowances are. Only the team administrator can talk about that.”

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