Athletes shun World Indoor Championship over debt
By Olukayode Thomas
March 11, 2010 07:02AM
Nigeria’s top athletes will boycott the IAAF World Indoor Championship which is to be held in Doha, Qatar this weekend. This is due to the debt owed by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).
Athletes like Nurudeen Selim and Ajoke Odumosu, who are currently running well, sent e-mails to the federation’s Secretary General, Maria Wophill, saying that while they appreciated the AFN’s invitation, they cannot honour it until the federation pays their outstanding allowances, bonus and ticket refunds.
They are also threatening to boycott the Mobil Championships and the Commonwealth Games.
Also, the kit manufacturing company, Nike, has said it will not supply Nigerian athletes the kits they are expected to wear in Qatar.
Invitation and decline
An excerpt of Wophill’s invitation to Selim reads, “Hope you are doing well and working hard in preparations for the World Indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar. I want you to confirm to me in writing your interest in participating at this year’s World Indoor Championships. While I await your response, accept my warmest regards.”
In his reply, Selim queried how the federation could expect him to participate in the Championship when they are yet to pay him his previous allowances.
His reply to Wophill reads, [b]“Although I am very excited to compete and accept your offer, it is very expensive to travel from the United States to Doha, Qatar. Currently, I do not have the funds for such a journey. With help from the AFN, I was hoping that this would not be an issue. I also have questions concerning the money, which I am owed from the 2008 and 2009 Mobil Championships in which I came first and won N50,000 for each victory.
Then there was the 2009 Abuja Super Grand Prix where I came second and won $2,000. I believe that it is only fair that I be paid this money as it is important to my livelihood as an athlete. I want to be able to run well and represent Nigeria to the best of my ability at the Indoor worlds and further, but this will require help from the AFN. Again, I thank you for the invitation and I look forward to hearing from and seeing you soon.”[/b]
With Selim and other top athletes based in the United States boycotting the federation, they have turned round to invite Peter Emeleze, Seun Adigun and Ogho-Oghene Egwero.
No kit from Nike
The kits that the athletes will use is still a problem, as Nike has written that they cannot supply kits for the athletes because the agreement they signed is that kits should only be supplied in June.
Nike’s officer, Robert Lotwis said it will not be possible to supply the kits because, “our agreement in Berlin was that this product would be delivered once a year in June.”
It will be recalled that since the inception of this board, the federation has been saddled with a huge debt burden.
They are indebted to both local and foreign athletes, former athletes, hotels and ticket money running into thousands of dollars.
Wophill, the federation scribe, could not be reached for comments.