Players threaten boycott of COPA Lagos

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COPA Lagos championship

Some Sand Super Eagles players on Wednesday threatened to boycott the forthcoming 2017 COPA Lagos Beach Soccer Tournament if their outstanding allowances are not paid.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that 10 players and five officials are yet to be paid their match allowances from the 2017 World Cup which took place in the Bahamas in April.

The Captain of the team Isiaka Olawale told NAN that the players were not happy with the development, adding that the team’s endurance had been overstretched.

“As the captain of the team, I’m tired, my teammates keep calling asking me questions I obviously do not have answers to, and it’s so unfortunate.

“As it is now, I’m not sure that players are interested in participating in COPA Lagos as it is, we cannot keep giving our best and they keep treating us like we don’t matter.

“We keep giving our all for the national team, while our clubs suffer, that won’t continue; to whom much is given much is expected.

“I have been trying to calm my team players down, and that’s why we have kept quiet for this long since April, they keep treating us like dirt,”he said.

The captain told NAN that he had even reached out to the authorities, but to no avail.

“I have called the Minister of Sports, I called the President Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to call their attention to this, but still nothing has been done, in fact they have stopped picking my calls.

“The only person that keeps appealing to us is the Vice-Chairman Seyi Akinwunmi, he picks my calls to assure us, but for how long am I going to keep calling.

“We love our country, but the love for our country will not pay our bills and take care of our families,” the captain said.

The Head Coach of the team Audu Ejo, also said the players were not happy.

“My boys are not happy and I honestly sympathise with them; I have gone to NFF boss, LMC boss, Olawale the captain has also made several calls.

“I make sure I go to wherever they are having meetings to remind them, but as we speak nothing has been done.

“Some of my players are soon going to be homeless because they can’t afford their rents,” he said.

The coach who has won the COPA Lagos tourney three consecutive times told NAN that the players have categorically told him they won’t answer his call for the Kinetic Sports organised tournament.

“They didn’t mince words with me, they said they won’t play, but I believe they said that due to anger.

“I do go round to appeal to them, that’s what I normally do, I don’t call them on the phone.

“I have to beg, if not for the way I relate with them like they are my children, I don’t know where I will get fresh players to camp for five or ten days and expect results.

“Beach soccer is not easy, it is hard, and if these players don’t play; getting dedicated players will be hard, but I believe the effort of Mr Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko, will help resolve this.

However, the NFF vice-president, Akinwunmi declined comment on the matter and referred NAN to the Secretary of the federation, Sanusi Mohammed.

All effort to reach the secretary proved abortive.

NAN reports that the COPA Lagos beach soccer tournament will hold from Dec. 8 to Dec. 10 at the Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island, Lagos.