…to restore peace between retired and active football players
Chairman of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) reconciliation Committee and Deputy Governor of Edo State, Comrade Philip Shaibu has called on members of the All Nigerian Football Players Union (ANFPU) and the Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria (PFAN) to bury their differences to settle the lingering issues which have bedevilled the smooth running and progress of the union in the Country.
The 5-man players’ unions’ Reconciliation Committee, inaugurated by the NFF board, to look into the misunderstanding between the All Nigerian Football Players Union(ANFPU) and the Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria (PFAN) has been meeting in the ancient city of Benin since Wednesday evening. The meeting is expected to be rounded off Friday with a press briefing and a communique.
Other members of the Committee include Mr Emmanuel Okala (MON), Dr Felix Owolabi-Akinloye (MON) and Mr Garba Lawal with Mr. Abdulrafiu Yusuf as the Secretary.
Shaibu who was speaking to members of ANFPU and PFAN in Government House urged them to be united to be able to confront any issue and challenges facing both retired and active football players.
“I welcome all of you to this meeting and I am happy to have you here as we work together, collaborate and unite to fight our challenges to ensure we move forward as players and ex-players.
“As members of this Committee, we are expected to work with members of the two Union and reconcile our differences as ex-players and have a strong union that will take care of all of us both retired and active players”.
He pointed out the danger of not having a vibrant and active union to take care of players and ex-players as the challenges of not having a very formidable strong Union is enormous and will kill the fabric of players in Nigeria. “We have more work to do. We are supposed to deal with those issues that affect us when we were playing to make sure that these young ones do not suffer the same fate.
“As players, we must have a union that has both the retired and the active players. We must have a Union that will take up the responsibility of filing cases, paying the bills of players and preventing the physical molestation of players and ex-players. Also, it should be able to shield and protect them from signing fake or slave contracts. As leaders of a strong union, we should be able to deal with issues threatening to bring us down.
“For the future of our young upcoming players, we have to be united and have a strong management players union to fill the gap, we are divided now and we need to be united for us to be able to produce an NFL president whenever the opportunity comes knocking”.
Shaibu said the Obaseki-led administration has kept sports alive in the State by developing several sporting facilities across the State which led to the hosting of the Nigeria Sports Festival 2020.
“As a Government, we will keep sports alive as we have developed various sporting facilities across the state to discover young talents. We have improved our sporting facilities including a standard swimming pool. This enabled the State to host the 20th National Sports Festival, Edo 2020.
“We have also built 20 mini stadia across the 18 local government areas and most of them are almost completed. Some of them within Benin City are of natural grass but those built in Edo North and Central are artificial grass because of the hot weather condition.
“Every Wednesday, there are sports activities in our schools which we have made part of the continuous assessment in schools across the State. This is aimed at catching them young as we work to bring sports alive in the State”.
Speaking on behalf of the PFAN, Edema Fuludu said the unions are the hope and the heart of the future Nigerian players and the system itself.
“Sir, you said something about safeguarding when you were talking about protecting players. That is what we must also teach in schools where we can protect the athletes from molestation not just about the contract but physical molestation. I know that you are a very busy person. We will discuss this issue amicably as friends and then find a common ground to move forward”.
President ANFPU, Abdul Sule said the reconciliation meeting is historical as the issues of players and ex-players have been facing different challenges and there has not been a viable or strong union to help them out. “The disagreement has been over three decades, hindering us from coming together as one to face our common challenges as nobody has risen to halt it. So, we expect the best from this Committee.
“We have so many issues of ex-players, some fortunate while others are not, we have some that are sick and we need to go round looking for money and without success because we are divided”.