Hey Shoko! FINALLY! The American press shows some interests in soccer, with Nigerian players in it, because there is an American team?

September 17, 2007, 9:29 pm
How a Nigerian Pay Dispute Could Help the U.S. Women
By Jeff Z. Klein

Tags: Nigeria Womens Team, US womens team, Womens World Cup

Nigeria coach Effiom Ntiero, on the watch for the "unscrupulous pastor" he says has been bothering his players. (Liu Jin/Agence France-Presse - Getty Images)Newspapers in Nigeria and in China are reporting that the Nigerian women's team at the World Cup is embroiled in that old mainstay of African football: a pay dispute between the players and the federation.

Only a few hours ahead of the game between Nigeria and United States - a match that will decide whether the Super Falcons will advance to the tournament quarterfinals - the players have reportedly refused to train. They say the Nigerian Football Federation has not paid their promised portion of a $100,000 (US) fee FIFA awarded the NFA for qualifying for the tournament.

The players also say the NFA reneged on a promise to pay each player a $750 bonus for their draw with Sweden, agreeing to $500 instead but not paying that lower amount, and that the daily food allowance of $30 per player is far below the federation's original promised $75. Details on the dispute here, at AllAfrica.com, the Web site of the Lagos daily The Guardian and the English-language site of the Chinese People's Daily Online.

The People's Daily site reports that NFA media officer Ademola Olajire confirmed Monday that the team was operating at "zero level", saying that there was no money in the team's camp.

The Americans need only a draw to go through to the next round. The Nigerians need a victory to have a chance to advance. (We'll have the play-by-play description of that match on this blog, LIVE, as it unfolds in Shanghai starting at 8 p.m. Eastern time.)

In addition to the problems with the NFA, Nigeria's coach, Effiom Ntiero, blamed the Falcons' loss to North Korea on Friday on an "unscrupulous pastor," according to another story in The Guardian. At a news conference on Sunday, Ntiero said: "That pastor has been collecting money from players to offer special prayers to them so that they can play well and outshine the opponent." Ntiero said the pastor was disturbing the players when they "should have been resting," an allegation that baffled the Nigerian reporters at the news