RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Nigeria will fly to Brazil after all, calling off a threatened strike over bonus payments that could have crippled the Confederations Cup.
Nigeria's players had been promised $10,000 for each win in the World Cup warm-up tournament and $5,000 for draws but the local football association found itself short of cash and cut the awards in half at the last minute.
The conflict prompted the African Cup of Nations winners to cancel their planned flight to Brazil on Thursday after the players refused to leave the team hotel in Windhoek, Namibia, where the squad had played in a World Cup qualifier.
"As I speak to you the matter has been resolved by the minister," Julius Ogunro, an aide to Nigeria sports minister Bolaji Abdullahi, told The Associated Press. "The minister has rallied round to get money to pay the team and we are looking for a way to send the money. The matter has been settled."
The Nigerian Football Federation had also planned to reduce the technical crew accompanying the team because of financial problems.
"We are shocked like every Nigerian at the attitude of the players," NFF general secretary Musa Amadu said in a statement. "It is incomprehensible because the NFF president and myself sat down with the management of the Super Eagles, including coach Stephen Keshi, to explain why we had to slash the bonus and other measures taken as a result of our financial constraints."
Amadu said the squad would travel to Brazil on Saturday, giving the team just one day to train before its opener against Tahiti on Monday in Belo Horizonte.
"I spoke with the team manager and they will be on the plane on Saturday and at the Confederations Cup," FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said. "So the issue is solved."
If the issue hadn't been fixed, it could have derailed a tournament that features just eight squads.
Nigeria is in Group B, which also features world and European champion Spain and Uruguay. Brazil, Japan, Italy and Mexico are in Group A.
Nigeria drew 1-1 with Namibia on Wednesday, meaning it still hasn't secured a spot in next year's World Cup.
The Super Eagles also played out a 2-2 draw against Mexico in a friendly in the United States on May 31 and then played another World Cup qualifier a week ago in Kenya, winning 1-0.
Associated Press writer Bashir Adigun in Abuja, Nigeria, and AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray in Johannesburg contributed to this report.