How The U17 World Champions Were Cheated, Shortchanged

How The U17 World Champions Were Cheated, Shortchanged

It was dream come true for Shedrack (not real name) when he was shortlisted in the final list of the players that will represent Nigeria at the 2015 edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

The team had been training hard in the quest to retain the trophy which was later won by Nigeria.

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Unknown to him, he will be abandoned later by the officials.

After he suffered playing on grass-less pitches without pay and sometime had to beg his poor parents to spend money to treat his injuries as an amateur in his village.

How The U17 World Champions Were Cheated, Shortchanged
The director general of the national sports commission, Alhassan Yakmut, with the captain of the Golden Eaglets, Kelechi Nwakali, during their arrival in Abuja on Wednesday, November 11, 2015. Credit: NAN-Photo

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He quickly put a call across to his parents in the south eastern part of Nigeria to share the great news: "I am going to World Cup, my life is going to change," he said.

"It was a dream come true for me after watching top Nigerian players succeed, I also watch the last U-17 when they lifted the trophy and never knew it will soon be my turn, when I saw my name I quickly put a call across to my parents in the east to share the news," he told Legit.ng.

The U-17 FIFA World Cup

The U-17 FIFA World Cup is played every two years, Nigeria is the current champion after retaining the trophy which was won in 2013. The Emmanuel Amunike led squad also won the most valuable player and the golden boot of the just-concluded tournament which was held in Chile.

Nigeria has won the tournament for the fifth time and once, back to back.

One of the 2013 winning squad member, Kelechi Iheanacho currently plays for Manchester City and has been invited to the Super Eagles by the head coach, Sunday Oliseh.

A member of the 2015 squad, Victor Osimhen has almost sealed the deal with Tottenham Hotspur, a club in the EPL.

Nigeria won four individual categories: Victor Osimhen won the golden boot and the silver ball, while Kelechi Nwakali won the golden ball and the bronze boot.

The players lamentation

When Legit.ng investigated the monies owed, a team source revealed that each player is owed  N1.5 million (almost USD8,000) and a total of 21 players were taken to the tournament. The NFF has run into a debt that is almost thirty-two million naira, N31,800,000 equivalent to USD160,000.

Some of the players who spoke to Legit.ng said that they have not been paid a dime, all they got were promises from the NFF and up till now they are yet to fulfill their promises. They only got N35,000 ($175) for their efforts at the world cup:

"They asked us to manage 35,000 and use it to transport ourselves back home, we have not been paid a dime after all our efforts after all we are world champions is this how to treat a world champion, this is so unfair," a player said under anonymity for fear of stigmatization.

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Shedrach continued by saying that all hopes to give money to his parents on his arrival has gone down the drain as he is so broke and had to change his number because people started calling to ask for money from them hoping he had come back with millions:

"Imagine this, I have a new line right now people have been calling to ask me for money and I don't have and they thought I am lying to them that we have not been paid. The NFF should encourage us now, as we saw them in Chile how they live large and some went shopping but we don't have any money here, they are users.

"Let me tell you more, we  were only given a pair of jersey, they don't have jersey, during training before we traveled we have to buy USED Nike clothes with our own money to train they didn't give us training kits they said they don't have training kits, we are not happy about this.

"Let me surprise you more we also lied to other teams, each time after the matches whenever they reach out to exchange jerseys we couldn't give them, we only say to them we are coming to run away or ignore them because we only have a pair each, it was not an easy task for us, but we won on empty stomach, this is modern slavery."

Other players like Shedrach said they are broke and pleaded to the NFF to give them their dues as soon as possible.

NFF is broke

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), have owed a backlog of salaries and this is not a hidden fact, one of the national team coaches in the person of Samson Siasia cried out to the media recently about his unpaid salaries, he was frustrated and had to let it all out.

Emmanuel Amunike once complained about his unpaid salaries.

A Super Falcons player has recently posted a message on her Facebook wall lambasting the NFF. She complained about their unpaid dues, even a source in the Super Eagles said they have not been paid and it may likely be the cause of the recent bad performances in  the team.

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NFF's reaction

All efforts to reach Ademola Olajiire, the spokesperson to the NFF, proved abortive as he failed to pick his calls or return all forms of messages sent to him.

The scribe to the NFF, Mohammed Sanusi, reacted by saying that anyone owed will be paid accordingly:

"It is a family affair and if we are owing the players or anyone they will be given their dues."

A top source in the sports ministry told Legit.ng under anonymity that the NFF is very broke right now and they cannot even account for the FIFA money they got during the last year's World Cup.

"See, the FA is very broke they don't have money and still yet they have to work and organize matches please don't blame them, we will join forces together to see that these bonus are paid their dues by the way they got money from FIFA last year during the World Cup we don't know what happened to the money, but we will keep pushing, thank you."

"I will continue playing and training and I hope my agent gets me a good team as soon as possible, as I wait for the money which hopefully I will give my parents to help me pay for my school fees because I want to further my education," Shedrach concluded.

Note: Names of the players have been protected to save them from animosity from the football officials.

Source: Legit.ng

Khadijah Thabit avatar

Khadijah Thabit (Copyeditor) Khadijah Thabit is an editor with over 3 years of experience editing and managing contents such as articles, blogs, newsletters and social leads. She has a BA in English and Literary Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Khadijah joined Legit.ng in September 2020 as a copyeditor and proofreader for the Human Interest, Current Affairs, Business, Sports and PR desks. As a grammar police, she develops her skills by reading novels and dictionaries. Email: khadeeejathabit@gmail.com

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