Nigerian prostitution scandal raises tempers as minister demands change

Dilichukwu OnyedinmaBy Mark Baber
July 17 - With President Goodluck Jonathan due to inaugurate the Football House, the new headquarters of the Nigeria Football Federation, on Thursday, the crisis of football administration in the country, revealed by the FCT Queens scandal, has led to calls from the country's Sports Minister for clubs unable or unwilling to pay the backlog in players' salaries to be barred from competing in the coming season.

At a crisis meeting on Tuesday with the board members of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), the League Management Company (LMC) and the Nigerian Womens League, sports minister Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi asked the NFF to ensure that all players are paid the money they are owed.

The meeting followed a story broken by Aderonke Ogunleye of Nigeria's Premium Times this week that players of FCT Queens, a club owned by the Abuja administration had not been paid for more than 18 months, forcing the players into begging and, in some cases, prostitution, to get money for food.

According to various reports, a visibly angry Abdullahi said at the meeting: "This has to stop. We cannot behave as if we live in a jungle. Every kobo owed players must be paid. Players must have proper contracts."

Dilichukwu Onyedinma, chairperson of the Nigerian Women League, who is also chairperson of FCT Queens, explained that the players had not been paid because of "bureaucratic bottlenecks" and that Federal Capital Territory Minister, Bala Mohammed had approved the salaries of the players, but didn't know why they had not been paid.

According to Onyedinma Women's Football League has made "steady but slow progress" under her management.

At the meeting, Nduka Irabor, chairman of the League Management Company, reportedly said measures to improve the welfare of footballers were being considered, including a minimum wage, and he spoke of progress in setting up a corporate governance structure for the league administration and producing guidelines to restructuring of clubs to function as legal, corporate and commercial entities.

Whilst various parties in Nigeria continue to blame one another for the situation, until media reports forced the issue and the intervention of the Sports Minister, no one appeared to be taking responsibility for the situation of players unpaid salaries, least of all the Chairperson of the FCT Queens and head of the Women's Football League.

Onyedinma has previously caused international controversy being quoted by Nigerian media as saying Lesbianism had been officially banned from the sport and that players found to be in contravention will be dismissed and also barred from representing Nigeria.

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