By Usman Aliyu
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Reconciliation Committee on Thursday urged members of the All Nigeria Football Players Union (ANFPU) and the Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria (PFAN) to bury the hatchet.
Chairman of the committee, Philip Shaibu, while meeting the two unions in Benin, said they needed to settle all lingering issues which have hampered their unions’ smooth running and progress.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the five-man reconciliation committee was inaugurated by the NFF Executive Committee to look into the misunderstanding between the ANFPU and PFAN.
Other members of the committee are retired footballers such as Emmanuel Okala, Felix Owolabi-Akinloye, Garba Lawal and Abdul-rafiu Yusuf who is the Secretary.
Shaibu, while addressing the union members, urged them to be united and act in good faith so as to address challenges facing both retired and active football players.
“We are happy to have you here as we work together, collaborate and unite to fight our challenges, ensuring that we move forward as players and ex-players.
“As members of this committee, we are expected to work with members of the two unions and reconcile our differences.
“We have strong unions that will take care of all, both retired and active players.
“We must take up the responsibility of filing cases, paying the bills of players, and preventing physical molestation of players and ex-players.
“The union is also to shield and protect players from signing fake or slave contracts.
“As leaders of a strong union, we should be able to deal with issues that threaten our welfare and means of livelihood,” Shaibu, who is also the Edo deputy governor, said.
He pointed out that for the future of young and upcoming players, there was a need for a strong management system for players and the unions have to fill the gap.
“We are divided now and need to be united for us to be able to produce an NFF President whenever the opportunity comes knocking,” the committee chairman said.
Shaibu, while turning to other matters, said the Gov. Godwin Obaseki-led administration has kept sports alive in the state by developing several sports facilities, leading to the hosting of the 2020 National Sports Festival (NSF) in 2021.
He added that the state would however continue to promote grassroots sports development.
“We have built 20 mini-stadia across the 18 local government areas (LGAs) in the state and most of them are almost complete.
“Several of them are within Benin City,” said Shaibu, who is also an ex-footballer.
Speaking on behalf of PFAN, retired midfielder Edema Fuludu said the unions have a duty to protect and safeguard players from molestation and abuse, whether in terms of contract management or physical exploitation.
President of ANFPU, retired Denmark-based forward Abdul Sule, said the reconciliation meeting was historical as players and ex-players have faced different challenges over time.
Sule added: “The disagreement has lingered for over three decades, hindering us from coming together as one force to face challenges we have dealt with over time. Nobody had risen to put a stop to the issues.”(NAN)