- Athletes Shortchanged?
- Officials Deny Allegations
By Kehinde Ayantunji
The quality of performance of athletes in the State of Osun Sport Council over a decade is abysmally low, a situation which could not totally be separated from the high level of inherent corruption in the system over the years.
The council is more of a training ground for athletes who would later dump the state for others where they believe their potentials could be better utilised and their dreams realised rather than stake it for their state of birth.
OSUN DEFENDER investigations revealed that corruption in the sport council is systematically lofty among all the officials in the council as well as the coaches of games involved in the scandal.
With the inauguration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s administration in late 2010, there was enthusiasm among sport lovers that a new dawn is being birthed in the state while athletes were hopeful that the era of misappropriation would totally be over.
However, the enthusiasm was short-lived as officials in the sports council allegedly continued with their inhuman act of shortchanging athletes at the 2012 National Sport Festival preliminaries that was held in Ado-Ekiti but for the protest of some athletes which eventually forced the officials to release full payment for the sports men and women engaged.
In a bid to enhance performance among for their own use athletes, an insider said, the state employs performing athletes and sometimes athletes or/and coaches based on contractual agreement and such athletes or/and coaches are placed under certain amount of money on monthly basis.
However, the coaches in collaboration with other corruptible officials in the State’s sports council are alleged diverting such funds for their own use.
Findings revealed that the coaches sometimes look for underaged players or novice at times who do not merit the appointment and offer them peanuts, share the remaining money or even look for their close relations to sign the release of such funds while it is in reality shared amongst them.
It was gathered that in some cases, the administrative department do push the coaches to be involved in the scandals as they await kickbacks from every assignment that involves money and if a coach is not on good terms with them, he may not be fielded to attend any competition.
Findings further revealed that recently, the state female football team officials shocked the team players when they refused to pay the outstanding salaries which had been long released by the state government.
The state government had before owed the team three months salaries spanning November, December and January, and when the money was eventually released in January after the last season, the money was not paid, only for the players to be paid for the month of February alone.
The medium gathered from a source close to the team that the money was withheld by the team officials to pave way for some of the players who were part of the team last season but would be dropped so that their share of the fund would not be accounted for and the others who are still in the team’s service may be paid eventually.
It was gathered that about eight or more players were dropped while those that are still with the team have not been paid but were given the sum of N5000 each to take care of their immediate needs.
When contacted for his reaction, the state FA secretary, Mr Amao Abayomi denied the knowledge of any shenanigan going on in the team, saying no player is being owed any salary, adding that if anyone is being owed the FA would have gotten a written report to that effect and initiate a proper investigation into the matter.
He, however, disclosed that the FA is not in charge of sorting players issues but to organise and register teams for competitions with the national body.
The Director of Coaches at the council, Daini Dairo, in his reaction disclosed that no contract or performing athlete is shortchanged by the sports council but because each game is short staffed, the coaches sometimes used the money of a player to pay two or three players which is always at their own discretion.
He said, though the players are underpaid compared to their colleagues in other states, as he added that an athlete gets N12000 while a coach gets N15000, which he admitted is a meagre sum, but the coaches still divide the money among two or three athletes.
He added that all athletes under contracts with the sports council are engaged based on merit and there is nothing as engaging underperforming athletes so as to shortchange them.
Some of the athletes who spoke under anonymity confirmed that they have never received N12000 since they have been engaged by the sport council, saying their salaries range between N3000, N4000 and N6000 monthly.
When they were asked whether the money is paid into their account, they responded that they are paid directly by cash and are always threatened to be dropped if they discuss such outside the council.
Recently, the state government approved a cash reward for the state contingent to the youths sport festival who won medals but findings showed that the officials of the sport council is holding unto the money and has refused to host the contingent nor give them their due.