Members of the Association of Professional Footballers of Nigeria (APFON) on Wednesday decried the hardship and deplorable welfare condition they have been exposed to, due to debts owed them by their various clubs.
The footballers also accused the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) of being responsible for their woes.
At a media briefing on Wednesday in Warri, the APFON Executive Secretary, Austin Popo, said the NFF “demonstrated gross incapability and helplessness in enforcing the decisions of the 2010 Arbitration Committee in the face of serious breach and non-compliance by the affected premier league and division one clubs”.
According to Popo, many of the footballers and their families have resorted to begging on the streets in order to keep bodies and soul together, while a few others have died leaving their families in abject poverty – like late Coach Kafaru Alabi (Elkanemi Warriors FC), Emma Agbo (Gateway FC), Benjamin Okafor and Monday Inabia Kalio (Sharks FC).
Popo said “Currently, the total award to coaches and players by the arbitration committee amounts to N264,203,500.00 (about $1.65m) while the undecided cases amount to N421,600,000.00 (about $2.63m)
He accused the National Executive Committee of the NFF led by Aminu Maigari of being insensitive towards the welfare of Nigerian footballers and coache. “We request the congress of the NFF to save the lives and careers of Nigerian footballers and coaches from imminent extinction, occasioned by the wilful disregard for the implementation of the relevant provisions of the NFF statutes and FIFA regulations”.
The footballers accused NFF of failing to invoke the sanctions on clubs who failed to comply with the 2010 decisions of NFF Players Status and Arbitration Committee in line with the relevant provisions of FIFA disciplinary code of 2011.
They also blamed the NFF for non-establishment of a National Dispute Resolution Chamber (NDRC) which provides for equal representation of players and clubs and competent for employment related disputes between clubs and players.
This has allegedly led to undecided cases worth over N750 million; and non-establishment of a national regulation, governing the status and transfers of players within Nigeria Professional League clubs, amongst others.