Super Falcons, NCDC officials clash at Abuja airport over COVID-19 test
• Incident ‘unfortunate,’ says NFF
• Pinnick hails players
A mild drama occurred in the early hours of yesterday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, as players and officials of the Super Falcons were allegedly humiliated by officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) over COVID-19 test money.
The Super Falcons, who on Wednesday, secured their ticket to the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations by defeating the Lady Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in Abidjan, were held hostage for over three hours inside the airport.
The nine-time African champions had departed Abidjan a few hours after the match, which they won 1-0 and arrived at the international wing of the Abuja airport only to be held hostage by the NCDC officials, who, allegedly, insisted that all players and officials must undergo another round of routine tests and pay a certain amount of money before they would be allowed to leave the airport despite being armed with their COVID-19 test results done less than 24 hours before then.
“This is a national team that has brought honours to Nigeria by winning the African Women’s Nations Cup a record nine times,” a member of the Falcons’ technical crew said bitterly.
“These players just defeated their Ivoirian counterparts to qualify for the Nations Cup and all they got on arrival is this inhumane treatment from officials of the NDDC.
“I think these girls deserve better treatment,” the team’s official stated.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), yesterday, described as ‘unfortunate’ the incident at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, said: “It was an unfortunate incident because we had our protocol officers on ground at the airport and they did the needful before the team arrived. We are a responsible organisation and the various national teams have been going out and returning to Nigeria since these COVID-19 protocols, procedures and guidelines started. We have never been caught napping.
“The issue had to do with COVID-19 protocols and we had no control over how things would be approached by the officials in charge at the airport each time.
“In this particular case, we fulfilled our part of the requirements. However, some other group of individuals arrived at the same time as the Super Falcons’ contingent and were bent on circumventing the process, and this compelled the health officials to adopt stern measures and even lock up some of their offices.
“It was beyond us, but we have already apologised to our players and officials over this incident.”