Nigeria’s Youth and Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, has apologised to players and officials of the country’s Olympic football team for the circumstances that led to the contingent’s late arrival in Brazil.
The team arrived at the tournament barely hours before their first match against Japan due to a delay in Atlanta, USA for officials’ alleged failure to pay for their flight. But they went ahead to beat Japan 5-4.
“I want to apologise for all the circumstances that led to your late arrival here. I apologise because I am the head and as such I must take responsibility for anything that happens under my watch.
“I am happy you all have put the unfortunate incident behind you and have shown that you are true heroes by making the country proud with your qualification for the quarterfinals.
“This qualification is unique as you guys are the first team to do so in the football event. I want to assure you that we appreciate your efforts, and I want to say that it’s when a man faces challenges that his true ability is tested.
“I am sure we all have learnt our lessons and will take the lessons to heart going forward.”
According to Thecable, Dalung recalled that the team faced similar challenges on the way to winning the Africa U23 Cup of Nations in Senegal last year, where they qualified for the Olympics.
He then assured the players and officials that all bonuses and allowances due to them will be paid.
The next day, Tuesday, members of the Dream Team VI, the Nigerian Under-23 team, were paid the first 11 days of their camp allowances.
The coaching crew and the back room staff were paid their allowances as well.
The sports minister who confirmed this said the upfront payment was to ensure that the players are focused and well-motivated ahead of the knockout stage of the competition.
The players are entitled to $150 daily camp allowance, which amounted to $1, 650 each for the 11 days.
Dalung promised that all athletes would be paid all entitlements before the end of the games.
“All your camp allowances have been budgeted for,” he said.
“There will be no storytelling during this games. You will get all your allowances and entitlements as we don’t want any distractions.
“We want you to remain focused….”
The team plays their last Group B match against Columbia on Wednesday night (11 pm Nigerian time) and Dalung has promised to be there to cheer the boys.
NP: Apologies accepted? Business as usual? What is your take?
Gay marriage proposal accepted at Olympics medals ceremony
Television cameras and photographers captured the moment that Marjorie Enya, a manager at the Deodoro stadium in Rio where the competition was played, took the microphone to pop the question to her girlfriend of two years on the pitch.
A tearful Cerullo accepted and, with no ring, 28-year-old Enya tied a ribbon to her finger.
“As soon as I knew she was in the squad, I thought I have to make this special,” Enya told BBC Sport shortly afterwards.
The proposal came after complaints by some female soccer players of homophobic chanting during matches.
Brazilian media have reported that fans have chanted ‘bicha’ – derogatory slang for homosexuals.
Marks Adams, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee, said the incident was a celebration of tolerance.
A record number of publicly out lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes are competing at this year’s Olympics.
An estimate by Outsports magazine says 44 are taking part, almost double the number in London 2012 Olympics.
NP: Adams says it’s a celebration of tolerance. Not everyone would agree with him. Do you?
Phelps scoops legendary 21 Olympic gold medals
Phelps scooped his last two medals in the 4×200 metres freestyle and the men’s 200 metres butterfly which he won in a time of I minute, 53.36 seconds a fraction ahead of Japan’s Masato Sakai (1.53.40)
The reigning 200 metres butterfly Olympics champion, Chad Le Clos of South Africa came fourth.
Phelps had retired after the London 2012 Olympics but reversed his decision two years later, before his comeback was almost derailed by a stint in rehab that followed a drink driving arrest in the US.
The US was leading the medals table with 26 gold medals at press time, followed by China (17 gold) and Hungary (6 gold).
NP: Good for Phelps, good for America. How many medals do you think your country will win at the Rio 2016 Olympics?