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NFF explains overstay of Falconets at Istanbul

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Following the Falconets’ exit from the Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has explained why Nigeria’s U-20 Women’s team overstayed for 24 hours in Istanbul.

The Falconets were en route to Abuja following a 0-2 loss to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals stage of the tournament. 

Fans began blaming the Federation for negligence after pictures of the team sleeping on the floor at the Istanbul Airport circulated on social media.

Demola Olajire, NFF’s Head of Communications, in a statement, said that the situation was due to the inability to secure transit visas for the team. He also reports Mohammed Sanusi, General Secretary of the NFF, saying that the tickets were booked by FIFA and not the federation. 

“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.

“Our officials pleaded for compassionate transit visas to take the players and officials to a hotel inside the town, but this was not possible. They were informed that Nigeria had been removed from the list of countries whose citizens were issued visa-on-arrival in Turkey. 

However, “The airline then took the team to a sleeping area at the airport and gave them tickets to have meals every five hours. 

Sanusi stressed that: “This situation has nothing to do with NFF, who had made arrangements to receive the team in Abuja before the complications in travel arrangements.” Olajire also added that the NFF had beseeched FIFA to negotiate with the Embassy of Germany to issue the team transit visas before their departure from Nigeria, for the team to travel through Germany, which unfortunately failed to pull through.

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