The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, on Thursday said the Federal Government did not expect the Super Falcons to win the just-concluded African Women’s Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
Dalung spoke with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, amid continued protests by the victorious Falcons over their unpaid allowances and bonuses.
The players had seized the trophy they won at the competition and said they would hold on to it until they were paid the N238.05m accumulated bonuses which they are being owed.
They had threatened that if President Muhammadu Buhari refused to address their grievances at the Federal Executive Council’s meeting on Wednesday, they would embark on protest on the streets of Abuja.
But the minister said the situation could have been avoided if the Nigerian Football Federation had envisaged that the team would win and put in place the process of paying their entitlements.
He said, “Don’t forget that nobody even knew the team will emerge victorious.
“If we were confident they will emerge victorious, all the federation would have done is to plan for the 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, so this will go a long way in killing this laudable achievement. It is unfortunate but we will make sure the right thing is done.”
The minister said his position had always remained that the process of request for funds for sporting projects must come earlier to meet the objectives.
He said if the federation had requested for funds on time, the process of settling the players would have been easier.
The minister admitted that the matter was not handled properly, regretting that there are also issues of outstanding payment of coaches.
“I think 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 am talking about the governance of football administration in Nigeria.
“Government has to do the surgery because they have been at the receiving end of the embarrassment.
“We must be prepared to do this to save the future of football in Nigeria. We must come together to find solutions to see how these issues can be tackled, “ he said.