Nigeria: NFF apologise to Super Falcons for airport delay

2 months ago 388
Nigeria women coach Randy WaldrumSuper Falcons coach Randy Waldrum said the coronavirus testing requirements were "nonsense"

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has apologised to players and officials of the women's national side, the Super Falcons, after they suffered extensive airport delays on their return to the capital.

Coach Randy Waldrum and Europe-based duo of Francisca Ordega and Rasheedat Ajibade voiced their frustrationsexternal-link after Nigeria's Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and airport officials prevented them from leaving because of issues with Covid-19 tests.

American Waldrum said the situation, which followed a two-hour flight, was "very frustrating".

But the NFF has absolved itself of any blame, describing the incident as "unfortunate".

"We had our protocol officers on ground at the airport and they did [what was necessary] before the team arrived," NFF general secretary Mohammed Sanusi said in a statement.

"We are a responsible organisation and the various national teams have been going out and returning to Nigeria since these Covid-19 protocols, procedures and guidelines started. We have never been caught napping.

"We had no control over how things would be approached by the officials in charge at the airport each time. In this particular case, we fulfilled our part of the requirements."

Disrespected champions

The Super Falcons are the continent's most successful national side, with nine Nations Cup titles, and remain the only African team to have played at all eight Women's World Cup finals since 1991.

The West Africans have won the past three continental titles, and will defend their crown in Morocco from 2-23 July.

However, the squad have had to stage public protests or voice their dissatisfaction in the media over poor treatments.

The team's run at the 2019 Women's World Cup in France was marred by a sit-in protest at their hotel over unpaid bonuses and allowances following a last-16 defeat by Germany.

It was not the first time they has protested over unpaid bonuses. After winning the Nations Cup in 2016 the squad staged a public demonstration in Abuja, while in 2004, they sat for three days in their hotel after winning the African title until allowances were paid.

The NFF says this latest embarrassment is an isolated incident.

"Some other group of individuals arrived at the same time as the Super Falcons' contingent and were bent on circumventing the process, and this compelled the health officials to adopt stern measures and even lock up some of their offices," Sanusi added.

"It was beyond us, but we have already apologised to our players and officials over this incident."

Nigeria's best performance on the global stage came in the USA in 1999 when they reached the World Cup quarter-finals.

Local media, women's football experts and some of the players believe they have failed to translate their continental dominance on the world stage because the NFF prioritise their male counterparts.

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