Nigeria Football Federation president Amaju Pinnick has stressed that the $500,000 released to the NFF from world football governing body FIFA would be spent transparently but stressed that the funds are not a “palliative” to aid the federation cope with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Pinnick said the funds are regular statutory payments from FIFA which were released early to “enable football federations around the world continue their operational obligations to staff and other third parties”.
FIFA had made available the sum of $150 million to be shared between its 211 member football associations “as the first step of a relief plan to assist the football community impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic”.
The funds which were shared $500,000 to each national governing body for “operational funding” for 2019 and 2020 was sourced from the Forward 2.0 programme, which was launched in 2016 and will provide $1.746 billion in total over the 2019-2022 period.
According to FIFA, the funds would normally be delivered “upon fulfilment of specific criteria”, but the prevailing circumstances forced a relaxation of the regulations.
Several media reports described the intervention as a grant but Pinnick has moved to reiterate the purpose of the payments stressing that they are not “relief funds”.
“Every year, there are statutory allocations that federations receive from FIFA, for the smooth running of football in different federations,” Pinnick wrote on Twitter.
“However, these funds come with statutory specific areas of obligations. In other words; if FIFA gives you money for youth development, you cannot use that money for anything else.
“What FIFA has done now, though, is to release funds that were meant to be released later in the year, earlier. This is part of FIFA’s plans to help ameliorate hardships that this novel coronavirus has and will cause. It is not a palliative, as some have speculated.
“It simply means the different federations are, in a manner of speaking, getting July’s allowances in May. Why? Because world football governing body recognises how much the economic and football landscape has changed and is making concerted efforts to mitigate the effects.”
The NFF president assured that all disbursements from the funds will be transparent and in accordance with FIFA guidelines and be made in consultation and under the direction of the sports ministry.
“All federations will still be required to follow the rules of spending them. FIFA hasn’t waived those rules. If a federation gets its allocation, it is expected to spend them on agreed parameters,” Pinnick stressed.
“As I have always tried to do, everything we do will be above board. Again, these funds aren’t relief funds.
“Let me quickly stress here that any decision taken about football in Nigeria will be taken in line with the directives of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Federal Ministry of Health.
“It is pertinent to note that every fund received by the federation goes through a stringent financial process of checks and balances before the funds are spent.”