There have been rumours and whisperings that the Amaju Pinnick-led Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is owing Super Eagles players their bonuses and allowances for more than two years.
That issue and the deafening silence by the players was blown wide open on Wednesday by Leon Balogun in a Twitter message.
The thorny issue before now has always been avoided by the players, who perhaps chose to tread cautiously, so as not to be witch-hunted for washing the dirty linen of the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF in public.
However, Balogun, a key member of the Nigeria national team, has voiced out his resentment against the unpaid bonuses and other issues inhibiting the Super Eagles.
Balogun, while speaking on The Beautiful Game Podcast, touched on the poor infrastructure and many other avoidable distractions that rent the air once the team is particularly playing in the country.
The Super Eagles, over the years, no longer have a permanent base in Nigeria and often play their games in different cities. Balogun, who has 32 caps for Nigeria, is not pleased with that arrangement.
“You hear about other players, and … why can’t they not perform in the Super Eagles? We have to be honest, the infrastructure, we are not being provided with the best minerals to do our job,” the 33-year said.
“It starts with pitches or it starts with accommodation but it goes on to pitches and all these kinds of things.
“If you say you want to see the next Messi coming out of Nigeria or the next Cristiano Ronaldo or whatsoever, if you want to see us so, then you need to make sure that back home in Nigeria, we have the best possibilities.
“Like, why don’t we have a base in Nigeria where we meet up like St. George’s park in England. We don’t really have something like that.”
Super Eagles players have reportedly not been paid match bonuses stretching from 2019 and NFF president Pinnick blamed the delays in payment on the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left the federation cash strapped.
Balogun, who plays for Rangers in Scotland, wondered why the NFF keeps contradicting itself on the long-overdue payments.
“About the bonuses, it’s not even a secret, I’ve read something recently where people in charge contradict themselves saying things have been paid then they admit they haven’t been paid,” he said.
Born and raised in Germany before teaming of the Super Eagles, Balogun alluded to the fact that he was brought up in a different culture that encourages speaking out when he sees something wrong.
The Rangers defender believes his perceived outspokenness has made many label him as a troublemaker in the Super Eagles setup.
“And, as I said, I’m always quite outspoken, probably I know if some people hear that they might come after me but I don’t care because that’s just how it is,” he said.
“I think it’s also a matter of the culture, it’s a cultural thing to show respect in this kind of things, also that’s something where I clash, probably because I’m not afraid to speak my mind, even if it’s with the coach or the manager. If I feel like something is wrong, I might at one point just talk about it and then it’s always like this boy is a troublemaker.
“I’m not a trouble maker, because, at the end of the day, I stand in for my teammates, I do that with pleasure and if I have to take the fall, well, I probably did in the past.”
The NFF is yet to respond to Balogun’s outburst but many fans have saluted the defender for speaking up.
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