‘Inability to secure transit visa, others, responsible for Falconets’ woes in Turkey’
by Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja
Following a worrisome report that the Nigeria U20 Girls National Team were stranded in Istanbul, Turkey, the Nigeria Football Federation on Wednesday, explained that a number of factors, including the inability to secure transit visas for players and officials led to the team having to stay 24 hours at the airport in Turkey on their way from the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup.
In a statement issued from Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the Secretary General, Dr Mohammed Sanusi said the nation’s football governing body was not responsible for booking the flight for Falconets in Costa Rica en route to Istanbul but FIFA, who were oblivious that hitches would arise in the course of transit.
“The NFF did not book the team’s tickets from Costa Rica; FIFA did. FIFA also did not envisage the hitches that saw the team delayed for more than three hours in Bogota, and another one hour in Panama. By the time the team got to Istanbul, the flight to Abuja had left,” Sanusi said.
“Our officials pleaded for compassionate transit visas so as to take the players and officials to a hotel inside the town, but this was not possible as they were informed that Nigeria had been removed from the list of countries whose citizens were issued visa-on-arrival in Turkey.
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“The airline then took the team to a sleeping area at the airport and gave them tickets to have meals every five hours. This situation has nothing to do with NFF, who had made arrangements to receive the team in Abuja before the complications in travel arrangements,” NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, explained.
Further in his clarifications, the NFF secretary General recalled that they had implored world-governing body, FIFA to intervene with the Embassy of Germany to issue the team transit visas before their departure from Nigeria, in order for the team to be able to travel through Germany. This did not happen.
However, on the issue of wears, Sanusi explained that “The players were handed three sets of green jerseys and two sets of white jerseys, several house-wear types and training jerseys. The players opted to wash only their jersey top (no other stuff) because when the first set of body-wear was sent to the laundry people at the hotel, it returned with some FIFA and NFF badges at the front and names at the back peeled by the machine.”
In the hours of Wednesday, the Falconets’ media officer, Colin Udoh, posted on social media handle with pictures that confirmed the Falconets’ passed the night on the floors and chairs in Turkish airport.