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‘Big athletes’ don’t need N50,000 COVID-19 palliative, says Ebewele

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A board member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Brown Ebewele is not comfortable with the method adopted in paying N50,000 to established athletes as COVID-19 palliative.

Some top Nigerian athletes had reportedly questioned the rationale behind the disbursement of the relief funds, but Ebewele, a former sports commissioner in Edo State, told The Guardian yesterday that it was wrong in the first place for established athletes to be included in the COVID-19 palliative.

“Nigerians should be able to separate between a professional athlete and those who are struggling to survive,” Ebewele said. “What is the rationale behind giving an N50,000 COVID-19 palliative to ‘big athletes’ like Blessing Okagbare, Tobi Amusan, Ese Brume or Divine Oduduru in the first place? These are professional athletes, who earn big money through a contract with various kit manufacturing companies. What do they need N50,000 palliative for?”

Ebewele continues: “Apart from those established athletes, there are some who are on grade level 10 and 12 earning big monthly salaries at various states. To me, paying those people N50,000 palliative was an exercise in futility. The palliative should be for athletes who are struggling for survival. There are so many athletes who are not under the payroll at the state or club level, and they don’t even have parents or guardians taking care of them. To me, those are the people who need the N50,000 palliative. The AFN and other sports federations know those athletes.

“I was mad to see the name of Charles Himah (Athletes Representative on AFN board) on the list of those earlier compiled to receive the palliative. What was his name doing on the list? We have to be very careful with the way we do things, especially when it comes to athletes. They are the reason why we are in this job, and we should do everything possible to take care of them,” Ebewele stated.

It would be recalled that Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, reportedly doled out the sum of N11 million as a relief fund for Nigerian athletes to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown.


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