Okiemute Odah, former goalkeeper of Plateau United in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), has revealed how clubs chairmen treats Nigerian players as slaves, reports totorinews.com exclusively.
Odah, who now plies his trade in Saudi Arabia with Jeddah FC revealed that it is a total relief for him to leave the Nigeria league after about 10 years of playing for different clubs in the country.He stressed that the league is blessed with very good players, but maltreatment from the clubs chairmen in the areas of welfare and poor football management have contributed to the poor performance of the players on the pitch of play.
“We have good players in Nigeria league but the league itself frustrates players from performing at their optimal level. The wickedness of most of the clubs chairmen is none of this world when you think of what most of these players are experiencing in the league.” Okeimute Odah said.
“Players will travel by road to a league venue. 22 players clustered together in a coaster bus for a journey of about 20 hours. Sometimes you get to the league venue the following day. Only Akwa United is trying coming by flight most times to a state that is very far from Uyo,” he continued.
Meanwhile, clubs chairmen will come by flight to watch the game and blame the players for not playing to their expectations. If the right condition is not created for the movement of the teams to different league venues, the players will never give their best in any game.
“Clubs chairmen will lodge at a very comfortable hotel. Players will be lodged at a very low cost hotel where commercial sex workers do have their trade and you see players strolling past prostitutes at the hotel lobby or corridors.
“Players will be lodged where they will be distracted with wandering eyes looking at prostitutes at the vicinity of the hotel where they lodged and these clubs chairmen will expect Nigeria league to flourish with good football in a game.
He further revealed that many Nigerian players are being shortchanged in their financial entitlements by most of the clubs chairmen and he hopes that the new leadership of National Association of Nigeria Professional Footballers (NANPF) led by Tijani Babangida will come to the aid of these players and rescue them from poverty.
“I hope that NANPF that now have Tijani Babangida as the president will help players in the Nigeria league. Players are owed millions of naira. If a player demands for his entitlements from the chairman of his club, he will be sacked as a surplus to requirement in the new season,” he said.
“If the player goes to another club, his former club chairman will call the club chairman where the player is heading to and he will label the player with all sorts of bad names and that is how good players have been frustrated out of the league in Nigeria. Most times once a Nigerian player could not play football for a season in Nigeria, he goes broke financially,” he lamented.
“Even when a player leaves a club amicably for peace to reign, despite the money being owed him. By the time the money is eventually released and paid to these clubs by states government funding the clubs in Nigeria league, these clubs chairmen will not pay players that had already left the club. If the players demand for their own financial entitlements, they will be told that the money released from government only captured the players that are presently at the club.
“This is the reason you see many players languishing in poverty in Nigeria league ,while the clubs chairmen are feeding fat, living in affluence. Nigeria league is a league of traders where players are the ATM cards of these clubs chairmen,” he further said.
“It is a big shame to even think that the Nigeria league is yet to start. Your league is your pride. It is not every Nigerian player that wants to play abroad if the league is well managed. Some Nigerian players abroad may even come back to play in the Nigeria league if it is well structured with good standard.
“But as it is right now, the league has no plan. No structure and no standard. The league is dying everyday, every season. I saw a bit of improvement in 2016 when Enugu Rangers won the league and after that it went completely bad to the extent that the 2017/18 season is yet to commence and we will be entering the year 2019 in few days time,” he said.