*Says Super Eagles to get bonus upfront
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The FIFA World Cup scheduled to hold next year in Russia will cost Nigeria N3 billion, the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, disclosed in Abuja on Tuesday.
Dalung who made this disclosure while speaking with journalists in the State House, added that FIFA would make N900million available; football sponsors would raise N600 million while the federal government would provide N2 billion.
According to him, the players will begin to get their allowances three months ahead of the take-off of the tournament to boost their morale adding that the federal government will ensure availability of funds for the tournament.
The minister also said his administration would ensure that unity is promoted among stakeholders to avoid a repeat of past failures caused by disunity.
“By March, we intend to start paying the players their allowances, camping allowances upfront. Now, that will go a long way to boost the morale of the players and confidence too.
“The new method of governance in football has taken the pattern of change. We will also ensure that there is unity within the football family because unity too is a key factor. Going by some of the reports we had in the past where poor performances were attributable to lack of unity within the family, the technical team, the officials and the players, this unity has to be promoted.
“Finally, we will also ensure that government makes funds available on time. That has been why the budget for the competition has since been sent to the president for a special intervention so that government can make provision for some of the funds we need for training now before other things can come up.
“Well, we have a conservative budget of about N3 billion but out of that N3 billion, FIFA is going to raise about N900 million, our sponsors and partners are also going to put in about N600 million, government will conservatively raise about N2 billion or N2.5 billion to complement,” Dalung hinted.
While dismissing the last ranking of Nigeria which made the team the least ranked among countries in Group D, Dalung said notwithstanding, Super Eagles are poised to top the group especially with its recent performance against Argentina.
He also said Nigeria would send a formidable delegation to boost the morale of Eagles during the event adding that the players will engage in more friendlies with a view to strengthening their skills.
“After the groupings, Nigeria falls within Group D and we appear to be the under dog going by the ranking of the teams. But I think ranking is more or less a paper job.
“What is very important is how you will perform and I believe that we are comfortable with the team because having tested Argentina which is a highly ranked team in the group, we can say confidently that with good work, good training, good welfare for the players and team spirit, we will top that group going by the disposition of our national team.
“Some people have been arguing that Argentina did not present their best, but we also have some players we didn’t invite and we also intend to invite them. It is an issue that is going to be determined practically by the level of preparation of the Nigerian team.
“Don’t forget that the Nigerian team had enjoyed a formidable home support and they are inspired to deliver. So, we will engage in more friendlies to try, determine our strength and areas of improvement before the final competition.
“When you have a problem, for you to successfully address your problem, you have to review the history of your problem. One of the challenges we have been having in sports administration especially competition is the welfare of the players and the officiating team and we intend to set a new approach to the question of welfare.
“This time, we also intend to mobilise a very strong federal government delegation that will support the team because sports is also about number. The number of people you have on ground can also give support to the players and intimidate. So, we intend to go with at least a good size of the federal government delegation to give the team support.
“We intend to make it more inclusive so that Nigerians will participate in this particular victory which Nigeria is going for.