Rio 2016: Nigerian footballers stranded in Atlanta over unpaid air fare

Samson Siasia

Nigeria’s Olympic football team are stuck in Atlanta, USA as the charter airline hired to fly them to Brazil has refused to leave until payment is made.

Samson Siasia’s squad are due to face Japan on Friday (at 1am GMT) in Manaus but a “logistical mix-up” is posing a threat to their plans.

“The Nigerian government [sports ministry] is responsible for booking the tickets for the team to travel but we heard there is a logistical mix-up with payments,” a source close to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) told the BBC.

“The money paid by the ministry for the charter flight did not hit airline’s account on Tuesday so they refused to fly the team to Brazil.”

The hitch in the transfer of funds is being blamed on currency conversions via various bank accounts. “It is a cumbersome exercise but they should have started the process much earlier, which NFF was pointing out. This issue has nothing to do with the NFF,” the source explained.

Inside the squad, the picture is not clear when they will be leaving. One of the players told the BBC: “We’ve been told to get ready to fly out in few hours but that’s been the story since last week.”

Nigeria are in the same Group B as Sweden, Colombia and Japan.