The Nigeria Football Federation have rejected insinuations by the Minister of Youth and Sports Solomon Dalung in a television interview that the issue of the Nigeria Olympic football team being stranded in Atlanta, United States of America was a hoax.
The Olympic Eagles only arrived in Manaus for their first Rio 2016 match six hours before their opening match due to a shortage of funds.
Chairman of the NFF Media and Publicity Committee, Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, who is a ranking member of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, said the entire Board was shocked by the insinuations, as the NFF President, Mr. Amaju Pinnick, had been giving them updates of useful meetings he has been having with the Sports Minister since he arrived in Brazil on Tuesday.
“The NFF Board and Management are taken aback by these insinuations. The NFF President has been telling us of meeting between him and the Minister on how to avoid the kind of situation we got into in the USA in the future. So, the Minister’s latest statements are a bombshell," Yahaya-Kwande said in an NFF press release.
“We are not openly challenging the Minister, but we must set the records straight. To start, we do not have any partnership with Delta Airlines, a company that we owe much gratitude for the way it came to the rescue to airlift our team to Brazil. The names of NFF’s partners and sponsors are known to the public.
“Secondly, the NFF is not aware of any receipt that was presented to the Minister for airlifting the U-23 team from Atlanta to Manaus. I am aware that the Minister himself requested for the phone number of our FIFA Match Agent (Mr. Jairo Pachon, who has been working with the NFF since 2009) when everybody became desperate about how the team would go to Brazil. The NFF President gave him the phone number, and the Minister himself asked Mr. Pachon to go ahead and charter an aircraft, and Pachon reverted that the amount would be $174,000, as against the $300,000 that was bandied earlier. However, the money did not reflect in the airline company’s bank account within the deadline it gave to us, so the service was cancelled. We insist that Mr. Pachon acted in the best interest of Nigeria.”
Yahaya-Kwande also took the opportunity to react to earlier allegations of the NFF bloating the football team’s list.
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“Which persons did we increase the team with?" he asked rhetorically. "There were two alternate players, the team media officer, the team coordinator, the team’s equipment manager and the team’s technical officer, who have always been part of the team’s crew, and who by global standards are required by the team. When it was made clear that they would no longer be taken care of, we told them to return to Nigeria.
“As I speak with you, the only NFF top officials at the Olympics are the NFF Technical Director and the NFF President. I would like to be proved wrong on this.
“The NFF Board has always displayed integrity in all its financial dealings and have always communicated to the Minister on every financial transaction and detail. On this too, we would like to be proved wrong.”