Controversy and backlash have engulfed the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) following the reception of a mere three members of the 23-woman Super Falcons squad by the wife of the President, Remi Tinubu. The event, held on Monday in Abuja, has prompted fervent reactions from fans, who expressed dismay and concern over the perceived exclusion of the majority of the squad members from the reception.
In a startling revelation, a senior official of the NFF disclosed to The PUNCH that the General Secretary of the federation, Mohammed Sanusi, informed the players and officials that the Presidency had requested a “trimmed down” list of attendees. The contentious decision, attributed to the Presidency, has ignited controversy and fueled speculation, leaving fans and stakeholders disillusioned.
The Super Falcons, despite their valiant performance, exited the ongoing Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand after a pulsating match against England ended in a penalty shootout during the round of 16. The team, boasting an illustrious record as 11-time Africa champions, garnered admiration for their remarkable display on the global stage.
Despite their early exit from the tournament, President Bola Tinubu and Senator Oluremi Tinubu commended the Falcons for their spirited effort. Senator Oluremi Tinubu promised to host the team upon their return to Nigeria, a commitment that came to fruition. However, the perceived limited representation of only three players raised eyebrows among fans who closely followed the team’s impressive performance.
The contentious reception also sparked conversations on social media, with fans expressing their dissatisfaction and questioning the selection criteria. A photo posted on the NFF’s Twitter handle captured the wife of the President, the wife of the Vice President, the wife of the Senate President, NFF president Ibrahim Gusau, NFF 1st Vice President Felix Anyansi-Agwu, and the NFF General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi, alongside Falcons’ captain Onome Ebi, Christy Ucheibe, and Tochukwu Oluehi.
Several fans took to social media to voice their concerns. Nnaji Obed Asiegbu expressed his disappointment, “You are very unfair. Hosted only three players. Where are the other players and technical crew? This is ridiculous and I feel embarrassed to see Mr. Felix joining to perpetuate this act of wickedness.”
Frank Obisike raised questions about the completeness of the squad in attendance, while Ezechukwuka criticized the perceived lack of proper organization and support.
Amid the criticism, an insider revealed that an initial list, encompassing 21 individuals including players, backroom staff, and officials, was reportedly pared down to just six on the order of General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi. Allegations arose that some members were omitted due to concerns that they might reveal sensitive information.
The incident highlights the intense scrutiny and public expectations surrounding the Super Falcons and underscores the challenges and complexities of managing national teams. The fallout from this controversy raises important questions about transparency, communication, and equitable treatment within the realm of sports governance.