Nigeria released its provisional World Cup squad yesterday, of which the final 23 will be staying at a new training camp in Richards Bay after security concerns were raised about the original camp in Durban.
Security concerns? In South Africa? You don’t say? I am very surprised. And for Nigeria’s troubles to switch camps, it will cost the team $250,000.
Actually, why exactly the team has switched camps is a bit of a mystery; several different stories are circulating, all not out of the realm of reason. Although, why exactly they are being charged $250,000 for the move remains unclear.
Reason Number 1 – Personal Safety
Nigerian sports minister Ibrahim Issah Bio blamed safety concerns for the players saying: “I am concerned about the noise and unsure of the security of this place. We cannot toy with the safety of our players who are ambassadors of our great country.” After the disaster in Angola at the Africa Cup of Nations in January, these concerns are probably in the forefront of nations’ concerns. If these are legitimate concerns then it is not clear why Nigeria is paying $250,000.
Reason Number 2 – Occupational Safety
South African national police commissioner Gen Bheki Cele denied that the team’s security was not the reason for the camp switch. Rather, Cele said it was “occupational safety” was the reason for the move. “What [the Nigerian Football Association] is talking about is occupational safety, and not safety and security. It’s true that the hotel is not finished yet; that is why, at the moment, they are staying up in Richards Bay – they are finalising things [at the hotel],” he said.
It’s not exactly clear what the distinction is between occupational safety and personal security. Is it that the training pitches are not safe for playing? If so, how can Nigeria be charged for changing training camp venues.
Reason Number 3 – The Training Camp Is Incomplete
Cele’s comment above about “finalizing things” hints at the original training camp not being complete yet. Plus Nigerian Football Federation president has said that the training camp “twice they fail[ed] to meet our deadlines to put things in place hence the cancellation. ” Things not finished on time? Not unheard of but certainly not a reason for a $250,000 charge.
Reason Number 4 – Lars Lagerback And/Or The Players Are Prats
Upon final inspection of the original camp it seems new issues were raised by manager Lars Lagerback that led to switch. Issah Bio is quoted as saying the following after the visits:
“The accommodations at Zimbali Lodge are self-catering chalets, and they are too far apart from each other. We looked at them during our initial visit just before the African Nations Cup.
“Carts are required to move from one chalet to the other. It’s almost a two-minute walk, and that is not good for the players.
“The coach is the technical man, and he should be the one to decide what is best for the team.”
Soccer players run six to seven miles in a single match, but apparently they can’t walk two minutes between chalets.
Oh the humanity!
But, this might explain why Nigeria is being charged $250,000 for the switch.
The switch is causing other problems as the new camp is located two hours from Nigeria’s match venue in Durban. FIFA regulations require the team be within 45 minutes of the venue. FIFA bends rules all the time so this should be no different.
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