SUPPORTERS CLUB SPENDS N30M ON COLOMBIA TRIP
Rafiu Ladipo, President General of the Nigerian Football Supporters Club, says his members did not travel to Colombia to support the Flying Eagles because the group could not raise N30 million needed for the journey.
Ladipo and his merry band of melody-making cheerleaders have become an endearing fixture at almost all international games played by Nigeria, but have been conspicous by their absence in Colombia, where John Obuh's Flying Eagles have romped to the second round in record style.
'Yes, we are not there, but it is not really our fault,' he told KickOffNigeria.com. 'We secured visas, in faraway Kenya, for 30 of our members to go to Colombia to support the team.
'Unfortunately this time, we are not buoyant. We needed N30 million to take care of our expenses, including flights, accommodation, local transportation and upkeep. But we don't have money. I have gone to the Ministry, to the NFF to appeal to them that we do not have money.
'But there's no help coming from anywhere.' The Supporters' Club is sponsored by telecommunications company, Glo, but Ladipo says the money from that avenue is long exhausted.
'We usually spend more than five times the amount we get from them. 'Don't forget that they are not expected to bankroll all our trips. We have an agreement with them to collect our money at the beginning of every year.
'We are in August now, and we've already done more than 10 international trips. Those trips cost millions. In 2010, for instance, we spent N88 million for the World Cup.
'This year, we've been to Germany twice, we've been to north Africa twice. We've been to Ghana three times. All these cost a lot of money.
'I went to the NFF to ask for assistance, but they said they don't have money.'
But why ask the NFF for money? Ladipo says it is not a regular occurrence.
'Usually, we pay our way to support all our national teams, with a little help from our sponsors.'