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Pinnick was misquoted on economic rights of U-17 players, says Okenwa

By Christian Okpara
31 December 2019   |   4:15 am
Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Football Federation’s (NFF) Technical Committee, Chidi Ofor Okenwa has disclosed that the federation’s president, Amaju Pinnick...

The NFF has moved to ensure that only qualified players are called up to the national youth teams. PHOTO: FIFA

Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Football Federation’s (NFF) Technical Committee, Chidi Ofor Okenwa has disclosed that the federation’s president, Amaju Pinnick was misquoted on the body’s position on the national U-17 team players’ economic rights. He added that Pinnick’s position is being presented out of context by a “small group of individuals, who are in good pole positions to ask questions on the template for the programme.”

Speaking in Lagos yesterday, Okenwa, who is also the chairman of Enugu State Football Association, said the NFF was working towards ensuring that only players worthy of playing for the country are invited into the national U-17 team.

There was furore over the composition of the last national U-17 team, which represented the country at the FIFA Cadet World Cup in Brazil, with some of the players alleged to have been manipulated into the team by agents.

Okenwa said, “Experience has shown that in recent times, the national age group teams have been assembled by the third party in lieu of the coaches and the NFF.

“In view of the above, the NFF Executive Committee in good wisdom knowing that all players belong to clubs/academies and are or ought to be affiliated to the NFF via state football associations, developed a template to ensure ambush marketing and other under carpet activities never again effect the assemblage and performance of the Teams.”

Okenwa dismissed the interpretation of the NFF president’s statement to mean that the federation would start selling players, adding, “In the template, the federation is properly guided by the FIFA’s Economic Right Rules. Those butting for ban on this matter should better look elsewhere as the template covers all parties involved in the system.

“While appreciating all well meaning Nigerians for their support to the NFF at this austere time, please be assured it can only get better. Great grace upon Nigeria in the years ahead,” he said.

The NFF had earlier been accused of neglecting its duty by given the coaches of the youth teams the free hand to select their players. Such freedom, according to some pundits, are often abused by coaches, who are influenced materially by agents wanting to sell their players.