NANPF, LMC To Tackle Players Welfare Issue

NANPF, LMC To Tackle Players Welfare IssueThe National Association of Nigerian Professional Footballers (NANPF) has vowed to keep up pressure on clubs to pay their players their wages and salaries.

The renewed commitment came after the association reached an agreement with the League Management Company to work together in ensuring backlogs are settled.

The 2016/2017 Premier League season begins on Saturday with many clubs yet to pay their players and coaches their salaries and bonuses from previous seasons.

NANPF General Secretary, Austin Popo, who expressed his disappointment with the refusal of the majority of the clubs to pay their players, said the body had decided to work with the LMC.

It was learnt that the players’ union and other groups had allegedly pressured the LMC to suspend the league until the players were paid their entitlements.

It was also learnt that the groups decided to make a U-turn after allegedly coming under pressure from some of the clubs and the LMC.

However, Popo said the players’ body would put defaulting clubs under pressure through the LMC for the players to be paid their entitlements.

The former Flying Eagles forward said that Warri Wolves, Taraba United and Heartland were among the clubs still owing their players.

According to Popo, “The painful thing about the debts owed these players by the clubs is that the managers and owners of these clubs are frustrating our efforts at retrieving the debts, hence we have decided to work directly with the LMC, who have assured us that the debts would be paid before the new season begins, to avoid a repeat of the past situations.

“These club owners have some recovered monies paid to them but they have refused to pay their players.

“Many club owners have these monies but divert them and conveniently owe these players knowing full well that the players would not want to go on strike when we call on them to do so.

“The players only speak out after leaving the clubs owing them for another one, hence they don’t help the cause.”

He added: “In the new season, players’ welfare is going to be our major focus as we have always done.

“We have met with the LMC and the list of players who are owed by their clubs and their account numbers have been forwarded to them (LMC). The LMC will pay them from the entitlements due to the indebted clubs.

“Some clubs have been responding. For instance, Bayelsa United and Gombe United have paid their players as of last week.

“Although the LMC have been doing a lot since they came on board, we have met with them and let them understand that the wages issue could cause disruptions in the league if not properly handled.”

Nigerian Footballers Lament Ill-Treatment By NFF

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.