By Osasu Obayiuwana
November 28 – The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has reacted to Insideworldfootball’s interview with Gernot Rohr (pictured left), head coach of that country’s national team, by issuing him with an official reprimand.
In an exclusive with this reporter, published on Tuesday, Rohr said that he has “enjoyed the last three years with the national team of Nigeria…” but was “demanding more respect from the federation, with regards to the payment of his wages and allowances and that of his players and technical staff.”
In the same interview, Rohr disclosed that the NFF owed him up to $100,000 in allowances and bonuses, over several months, which they were yet to pay.
According to reliable sources within the national team that spoke to Insideworldfootball on Wednesday, NFF President Amaju Pinnick (pictured right) exchanged messages with Rohr and was “furious” with the German for his frank comments in Tuesday’s story.
“He went crazy about what Rohr said. But the coach was simply telling the truth. The state of affairs between both men is very strained at the moment, In fact, it has been strained for some time,” the source said.
It was following Pinnick’s conversation with Rohr that a query was issued. This was made public by Bitrus Bewerang, the NFF’s Technical Director, on Wednesday.
“In as much as we appreciate the work that Mister Rohr has been doing with the Super Eagles in the past 40 months, his recent penchant for breaching provisions of the contract he signed with the NFF and the Code of Conduct for coaches is not good for the relationship,” Bewerang began, on behalf of the federation.
“The NFF wishes that Mr. Rohr continues in the job because of the team he is building for Nigeria which looks promising and has earned some good results since he took charge…
“But he cannot continue to nonchalantly cause the NFF as a body, and Nigeria as a nation, reputational damage through his utterances and actions.”
“As at today, the only money that the NFF is owing Rohr is the differential in his new contract (about $30,000) which our financial advisors have to align and interface with AITEO (an NFF sponsor responsible for paying Rohr’s wages) before payment (as the improved contract came into effect in the last half of the year)… He will soon be paid.”
“Mister Rohr has talked about [a] bonus from the 2019 AFCON, which is not contractual but discretionary on the part of the Federation,” Bewerang claimed.
“The present NFF started the policy of paying players a percentage of tournament bonus during the 2018 FIFA World Cup just to motivate them, outside their bonuses and allowances.
“We did not pay any bonus for the 2021 AFCON qualifying matches against Benin Republic and Lesotho, because we are in the process of negotiating with the players on a new template of bonus payments based on performance after qualification for championships. This is still being discussed.”
“The NFF is very much alive to its responsibilities but will not tolerate disrespect for the body and the country Nigeria by anyone. The NFF can never be happy owing coaches in its employ, which is the reason why the present administration took the unprecedented step of putting in place a sponsor specifically to pay coaches’ salaries,” the statement said.
During the AFCON in Egypt, both men hardly spoke to each other, as a result of the strained nature of their relationship, as the German felt let down by the series of financial promises made to him, his staff and the players – who refused to attend a mandatory AFCON pre-match press conference, in protest against the non-payment of outstanding bonuses.
The German, who won a bronze medal at the last AFCON finals in Egypt and has won his first two games in the on-going 2021 AFCON qualifying campaign, is in the last seven months on his contract and is legally entitled to begin pre-contract negotiations with other parties from 1 January 2020.
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