The Nigeria Football Federation has given its side of the story after photos emerged overnight of the Falconets sleeping in uncomfortable positions on benches and the floor at an airport in Istanbul, Turkey.
The players were on their way back to Nigeria after losing to The Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica in the early hours of Monday.
The NFF explained today that a number of factors, including the inability to secure transit visas for players and officials of the team at the Istanbul Airport, led to the them having to stay 24 hours at the airport in Turkey.
“The NFF did not book the team’s tickets from Costa Rica; FIFA did. FIFA also did not envisage the hitches that saw the team delayed for more than three hours in Bogota, and another one hour in Panama. By the time the team got to Istanbul, the flight to Abuja had left,” NFF General Secretary Dr Mohammed Sanusi told the body’s media department.
“Our officials pleaded for compassionate transit visas so as to take the players and officials to a hotel inside the town, but this was not possible as they were informed that Nigeria had been removed from the list of countries whose citizens were issued visa-on-arrival in Turkey.
“The airline then took the team to a sleeping area at the airport and gave them tickets to have meals every five hours. This situation has nothing to do with NFF, who had made arrangements to receive the team in Abuja before the complications in travel arrangements.”
The NFF claimed they had implored FIFA, without success, to intervene with the German embassy to issue the team transit visas before their departure from Nigeria, in order for the contingent to be able to travel through Germany.
On the issue of what the players were wearing, Sanusi said: “The players were handed three sets of green jerseys and two sets of white jerseys, several house-wear types and training jerseys.
“The players opted to wash only their jersey top (no other stuff) because when the first set of body wear was sent to the laundry people at the hotel, it returned with some FIFA and NFF badges at the front and names at the back peeled by the machine.”