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Following the outcry that greeted reports that Nigeria’s Falconets were stranded in Turkey after being knocked out of the World Cup in Costa Rica, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) on Wednesday clarified the unfortunate incident which saw the U20 women’s national team, Falconets, stranded for hours at Istanbul airport on their way back from the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup.
In an official press release, the NFF explained that a number of factors, including the inability to obtain transit visas for Falconets players and officials, forced the team to stay 24 hours at the airport in Turkey.
“The NFF has not reserved the tickets for the Costa Rican team; FIFA did. Nor did FIFA consider the hiccups that saw the team delayed for more than three hours in Bogota and another hour in Panama. By the time the team arrived in Istanbul, the flight to Abuja had departed.
“Our officials advocated for humanitarian transit visas to take players and officials to a hotel inside the city, but this was not possible as they were informed that Nigeria had been withdrawn. from the list of countries whose citizens had received a visa on arrival in Turkey.
The airline then took the team to a sleeping area at the airport and gave them tickets to eat meals every five hours.
This situation has nothing to do with NFF, who had made arrangements to receive the team in Abuja prior to complications in travel arrangements,” explained NFF Secretary General Dr. Mohammed Sanusi.
It should be recalled that the NFF had implored the world governing body, FIFA, to intervene with the German Embassy to issue the teams’ transit visas prior to their departure from Nigeria, so that the team could travel. across Germany. This does not happen.
On the issue of bodywear, Sanusi said, “The players received three sets of green jerseys and two sets of white jerseys, several types of indoor clothing and practice jerseys. The players chose to wash only their shirts (no other things) because when the first set of bodywear was sent to the hotel launderers it came back with FIFA and NFF badges on the front and names on the back peeled off by the machine.