The Confederations Cup hasn’t even kicked-off and Nigeria are already in trouble.
The Super Eagles, scheduled to depart Africa for Brazil on Thursday, missed their flight because of an apparent row over players’ bonuses. Nigeria is due to face Tahiti in their first Group B match on Monday but they remain in Namibia following their 1-1 draw in Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier.
Following the match Nigeria’s players were upset at being offered a $2,500 bonus, insisting they want double. The Nigeria Football Federation denied the request with president Aminu Maigari informing the players that the organization had no choice but to make drastic cuts in its expenditure.
This is the second time in two weeks the Nigerian players have revolted over a bonus. Last week, the players wanted $10,000 for their 1-0 win over Kenya in the 2014 World Cup qualifier.
The budgetary crisis is apparently due to an expensive Africa Cup of Nations campaign in South Africa this past winter. It was during that tournament that Nigeria ended a 19 year drought to win the title 1-0 over Burkina Faso and qualify for the Confederations Cup.
It’s now being reported via Twitter by the BBC’s Ben Smith (@BenSmithBBC) and John Bennett (@JohnBennettBBC) that the Nigerian players will board a flight on Saturday to make the 7,000 KM journey to Brazil. The flight will go through both Johannesburg and Sao Paulo before arriving in Belo Horizonte, giving them only 48 hours to climitize themselves.
Bonuses have been a topic of conversation before in Nigerian soccer. Before the Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria offered its players $90,000 each, paying $10,000 for each win in the group stage, plus another $15,000 for winning in the quarter-finals, $20,000 for the semi-finals and $25,000 for the final.
It is unclear whether the Nigerian Football Federation and the players entered into a bonus agreement ahead of the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers. If an agreement was made and the Federation is breaking it by offering $2,500, then this is a serious grievance for the players that FIFA must investigate. But if no agreement was in place, then the players have no one to blame but themselves.
In the United States, bonuses for international players are negotiated between the players union and the USSF before being spelled out in a formula within the collective bargaining agreement.