The Mnister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, has enjoined the U23 players and officials to shun anything that could distract them from the crucial quarterfinal match against Denmark on Saturday.
Mr. Dalung made the appeal against the backdrop of reports that the players have threatened not to honour the match unless their allowances are paid.
The minister assured that payment of the next round of camp allowances would start on Friday. All the players and officials have been paid for the first 11 days.
A statement by the Media Aide to the Minister, Nneka Ikem Anibeze, said the Minister also debunked report that team captain, Mikel Obi, paid hotel bills, saying it was settled by the ministry.
Anibeze’s statement reads in full: “The attention of the Ministry of Youth and Sports has again been drawn to the news that Team Nigeria’s Captain John Mikel Obi paid hotel bills accruing from the 8 unaccredited players and officials in Rio with the National U-23 team.
“According to the Minister of Youth and Sports Barrister Solomon Dalung, the chief coach of the team Samson Siasia in company of another official had come knocking on his door at about 4am Sao Paolo time.
“Siasia was in my room early this morning and said the hotel security had refused to allow the team leave the hotel due to unpaid hotel bills.
“I also lodged in the same hotel with the Permanent Secretary and other members of the National Assembly who came to watch the match against Columbia.
“I told him to add the bill to the permanent Secretary’s bill so that he can clear it alongside other bills. The amount incurred by the excess officials and players is $4,600.
“When we checked out of the hotel, the money was added and the Permanent Secretary paid all outstanding bills. I am surprised to hear and read that Mikel Obi saved an embarrassing situation by paying the bills” Dalung stated.
“The Minister also restated that 8 unofficially accredited persons have been following the team since they left Atlanta including 4 players and 4 officials.
“The organizers of the games, the International Olympic Committee are only responsible for 25 accredited players and officials including feeding, flights and accommodation. We have been carrying the rest along.
“In Manaus, we were forced to pay camp allowances to the extra 4 players making 29. As we speak now, the Nigeria Football Federation is the only federation that does not have a single board member on ground. Not even the Secretary-General is here.
“So, it is really unfortunate that this is happening. We have paid all players and other athletes their first 11 days in camp and the payment of the rest of the days will commence today (Friday).
“We want to plead with the players to shelve all actions capable of distracting them from their upcoming game on Saturday against Denmark and channel all grievances through the appropriate route.
“We remain committed to the welfare of all our athletes in camp as we look forward to giving them our unhindered support” Dalung reassured.”