Chairman of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Reconciliation Committee, Comrade Philip Shaibu, who is also Edo State deputy governor, has called on members of the All Nigerian Football Players Union (ANFPU) and the Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria (PFAN) to bury the hatchet and settle lingering issues, which has hampered the smooth running and progress of the unions.
The five-man committee recently inaugurated by the NFF board to look into the misunderstanding between the ANFPU and PFAN, opened discussions for a truce, yesterday, in Benin City.
Other members of the committee include Mr. Emmanuel Okala, Dr. Felix Owolabi-Akinloye, and Mr. Garba Lawal, with Mr. Abdulrafiu Yusuf as Secretary.
Shaibu, who addressed members of ANFPU and PFAN, during the meeting at the Government House, urged them to be united and act in good faith to address challenges facing both retired and active football players.
According to him: “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.”
He added: “For the future of young, upcoming players, we have to be united and have a strong management system for players. These unions have to fill the gap. We are divided now and need to b
e united for us to be able to produce an NFL President whenever the opportunity comes knocking.”
Shaibu said the Governor Obaseki-led administration has kept sports alive in the state by developing several sporting facilities, which led to the hosting of Nigeria’s Sports Festival in 2020.
Noting that the state will continue to promote grassroots sports development, he said: “We have built 20 mini stadia across the 18 local councils and most of them are almost complete. Some of them are within Benin City.
“Every Wednesday, there are sporting activities in our schools, which also is part of the continuous assessment in these schools across the state. This is to spot young talents.”
Speaking on behalf of PFAN, 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, Abdul Sule, said the reconciliation meeting is 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.”
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