Senate President, David Mark, got a taste of the national team camp when he held a meeting with the Super Eagles in Campinas just before their opening match against Iran in Group F of the 2014 World Cup on Monday.
Mark led the Federal Government delegation to the World Cup in Brazil.
Our correspondent learnt that Mark had demanded to hear the players’ grievances with the aim of settling the rift between them and the Nigeria Football Federation over their bonus. The players allegedly asked Mark to pay them $2m immediately from the $8m the NFF was expecting from FIFA for the first round matches since he was the third in authority in Nigeria and representing the President. The players maintained that they should get 25 per cent of the money.
The players insisted that they must receive their money before their match against Iran, which eventually ended 0-0 in Curitiba.
When it became obvious that the players were not moved by his presence, the Senate President allegedly became angry. It was learnt that after the players had spoken that their coach, Stephen Keshi, who apologised to the FG delegation and the NFF members at the meeting.
Our correspondent learnt that Keshi’s apology was received half-heartedly by Mark and the NFF officials led by Aminu Maigari as they had expected him to step in much earlier.
“Keshi did apologise but that was met with subdued hisses from those at the meeting,” an official, who pleaded anonymity, said.
The FIFA money fight is a carryover from their USA camp as they had put the NFF on notice over the money before agreeing to board the flight to Brazil.
Fight over money is not new to this set of Eagles. Last year they arrived in Brazil late for the FIFA Confederations Cup after embarking on a strike in Namibia over match bonus.