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Falcons may miss out in FIFA’s $1m largesse over protest at World Cup

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Super Falcons players surround a referee after conceding a goal at France 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where they stage a sit-in protest over unpaid bonuses. Photo: reportminds.com

• NFF urged to pick Omagbemi, Akide-Udoh as coaches
Players and officials of the Super Falcons of Nigeria may not get their 30 percent cut in the 2019 FIFA World Cup largesse, which will be paid to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) any time from now.

This is a punishment for the team’s protest over unpaid bonuses while participating at France 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The players, led by Swede coach Thomas Dennerby, staged a sit-in protest in the city of Grenoble after losing 0-3 to Germany in the Round of 16, claiming that they were owed a backlog of bonuses and World Cup appearance fees. They refused to leave their Mecure Hotel, making it the third time the Super Falcons staged a sit-in protest over bonuses since 2004 in South Africa and 2016 in Abuja. The previous two occasions were after winning the African Nations Cup title.

However, an official of the NFF revealed to The Guardian yesterday that FIFA had used over $200,000 to settle the protesting Super Falcons in France before the players agreed to leave their hotel rooms for Abuja.

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“Now, FIFA has deducted the amount it used in paying the players from the $1million that is supposed to come to the NFF for Super Falcons qualification for the round of 16 at France 2019 World Cup. Our initial arrangement was for the players and their officials to get 30 percent of the money, but that won’t be possible,” the NFF official said.

The Guardian recalled that the Super Falcons were the fourth national side to down tools over outstanding bonuses in 2019, following protests by France’s U20 female team, the U17 boys from Tanzania and U20 men from Poland.

Meanwhile, stakeholders in the nation’s women football have urged the leadership of the NFF to consider the appointment of U.S.-based duo of Florence Omagbemi and Mercy Akide-Udoh for the vacant position of the Super Falcons coaching job.

Omagbemi led the team to win the 2016 edition of the African Nations Cup in Cameroun, but her contract was not renewed by the NFF. She alongside Akide-Udoh led the team to win several AFCON titles, and appeared three times at the FIFA World Cup during their playing days.

Some stakeholders, who spoke with The Guardian yesterday, were of the opinion that the duo would bring good results to the Super Falcons. They also argued that giving the ex-players opportunity to lead the Falcons would be more economical for the nation than paying huge salaries to foreign coaches, considering the federation’s scarce resources.

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