How Oliseh stopped pay disparity in Super Eagles

How Oliseh stopped pay disparity in Super Eagles
Photo by Icon sport

The Super Eagles have come a long way to where they presently sit, with many battles fought to ensure that the team many all adore today is worthy of being called an international brand.

The team that has won AFCON three times (Only Egypt, Cameroon and Ghana) have won it more times than they have, has a torrid history, with the soldiers that have fought these battles hiding their scars.

Few people understand the sacrifices that made the Super Eagles what it is.

The national anthem of Nigeria states that the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain. However, it seems there is a delight in making it so and former Super Eagles captain Sunday Oliseh understands this perfectly.

Oliseh has been at the forefront of serving justice in the Super Eagles.

Oliseh put an end to pay disparity in Super Eagles

Sunday Oliseh in action for the Super Eagles at the 1994 World Cup
Photo by Icon Sport

One-time captain and coach of the Super Eagles, Sunday Oliseh, has had issues with players and administrators, which made his time with the team chaotic.

While he is disliked by many and seen as one who brings obstructions, some see his worth and view him from the lens of a fighter for truth and justice.

Oliseh has never shied from voicing his beliefs and once claimed he would not play Mikel Obi in his team, citing a preference for Wilfred Ndidi.

One of those people is Duke Udi, who claims that the former midfielder and AFCON winner was the one who put an end to the nonsense of pay disparity in the Super Eagles.

In an interview with Elegbete TV & Radio, Udi cleared the air on what had always transpired in the Super Eagles. In the interview, he claimed that there was a dichotomy between the foreign and home-based players managed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

According to Udi, the home-based players received far less than their foreign counterparts, and it got to a head. Oliseh, as the captain, had to act.

Oliseh spoke up and faced off with the NFF, which halted the pay disparity between the Foreign and home-based players. It led to uniform payment for all players.

How Oliseh ensured uniform payment for Super Eagles players

Sunday Oliseh - former Super Eagles manager
Credit Icon Sport

Udi said in their last World Cup qualifying match against Liberia, he played the game as a home-based player from Enyimba.

He said some foreign-based players did not taste action, but at the end of the game, he received Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N200,000), while his counterparts received $5,000.

“When they paid the foreign-based players their match bonuses, they paid them $5,000. I was the only home-based player that played the game and they gave me N200,000,” Udi said.

The former Enyimba midfielder claimed they tried to compel him to sign to have received $5,000 despite being paid in Naira, but he refused.

Udi reported the situation to Oliseh, who called a team meeting and asked everyone to return the money they received.

According to Oliseh, how can a player who did not play the match be paid more than one who did because of the location of his club? He described it as an injustice that must stop and rose to correct the anomaly.

Oliseh, who claimed Austin Jay Jay Okocha is a misunderstood personality like him, got into battle mode, not minding whose ox was gored.

Udi said Oliseh then returned the money to the Secretary General of the NFF. The refusal of the former Super Eagles captain to allow such injustice to stand resulted in every player receiving the same match bonus.

Following up on the incident, Duke said the River State Governor Peter Odili hosted the Super Eagles after the game and presented $5,000 to every player (without any dichotomy) in appreciation for qualifying for the Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup.

It was the incident that brought an end to the dichotomy in the payment of match bonuses to the players.

The whole arrangement smacked of corruption and is probably why the NFF had issues with Oliseh and why he missed the 2002 World Cup.

Some insinuate that it was payback for challenging the status quo.

This article was most recently revised and updated 3 weeks ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter.