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U-20 World Cup: Pay row delays Nigeria departure

Nigeria will fly out of Poland today (Wednesday) after a dispute about bonus payments at the Under-20 World Cup was verbally settled.

The Flying Eagles were due to leave on Tuesday after a 2-1 loss to Senegal in the round of 16.

However the squad refused to leave their hotel in Lodz after the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) failed to pay about US$5,000 per player bonus.

This lead to players and officials missing their scheduled flights to Abuja and are now planning to leave on Wednesday.

The NFF has promised they will be paid on their return to Nigeria but despite the assurances the players remained wary.

“It’s been verbally resolved now and we have arrived in the city of Warsaw,” one of the players told BBC Sport.

“We were promised $2,000 in bonuses and our camp allowance of $100 per day, sadly we never got anything and to think our coaches are being owed wages too.

“After what happened here it’s difficult to trust anyone when we return home, but we have decided to leave on Wednesday after reassuring words from the NFF general secretary Mr Sanusi [Mohammed].”

The NFF, which receives direct funding from government, has struggled to get approval for the release of funds.

The cash-strapped NFF, which has been forced to seek financial help from sponsors to cater for the various national teams on international assignments, has now had to make alternative flight arrangements for the squads.

“There was a minor delay but we are expecting the team to leave for Nigeria on Wednesday,” NFF’s director of communications Ademola Olajire said.

Pay rows have often surrounded Nigerian teams, with coaches not paid regularly, while players have previously boycotted training during important qualifiers or at major tournaments over unpaid bonus.

Their 2014 World Cup campaign was affected by a bonus row, with players boycotting training before the round of 16 fixture against France as they demanded their bonuses and appearance fees.

Nigeria’s women’s team – the Super Falcons – have twice been involved in sit-in protests at hotels in South Africa and Abuja to demand money owed to them.