FIFA advances $2 million to African World Cup teams

World Cup-bound African teams have received a major boost after FIFA agreed to advance each of the five countries US$2 million ahead of the global football fiesta which kicks off in Russia next month.

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil saw the Ghana and Cameroon national teams arguing with their football associations over bonus payments: Cameroon arrived late, Ghana’s government flew in $3 million cash to avert a strike, and Nigeria players cancelled a team practice.

Money disputes at previous World Cups “affected badly the image of African football, with a considerable impact on team performances,” Confederation of African Football (CAF) said.

But the continental football governing body has this time moved in quickly to avert a potential repeat of past events by convincing FIFA for an advance payment of US$2 million each for Egypt, Senegal, Nigeria, Tunisia and Morocco who will represent Africa in Russia.

The money is part of the prize money due to all World Cup participating teams.

“This agreement, for an advance on the financial allocation by FIFA, aims to allow representatives in World Cups to have a harmonious preparation and to settle beforehand the question of bonuses due to the players, which in the previous editions of the competition has led to situations that affected badly the image of African football, with a considerable impact on team performances,” CAF president Ahmad said.

CAF’s move to thwart any potential distractions on the road to Russia throws deep into spotlight African teams who would be bidding to at least reach the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time ever.

The 32 federations sending teams to the World Cup get $1.5 million each from FIFA to prepare, plus at least $8 million in prize money after the tournament. The winner gets $38 million.

Austin Ohaegbu