Bitter Discontent: Ex-Players of Enyimba FC Seek Justice for Unpaid Salaries, Bonuses, and Championship Glory

Enyimba FC

Reports have recently surfaced from multiple sources, shedding light on a disheartening situation surrounding the ex-players of Enyimba Football Club of Aba. These former players, once the backbone of the club, are now facing a troubling ordeal due to the club’s management’s failure to honor their financial commitments. The unsettling revelations include unpaid salaries, withheld match bonuses, and a lingering debt related to sign-on fees.

Enyimba FC
Enyimba FC

The backdrop of this disheartening narrative is the remarkable achievement of Enyimba Football Club in clinching the coveted 2022/2023 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) title. A triumphant moment that should have marked a celebration for both the players and the management, has now turned into a lamentable saga of unpaid dues and unmet promises.

As the dust settled on the triumphant season, the club confirmed the departure of 11 players in August 2023, adding a sense of bittersweet closure to their journey with Enyimba. However, the exit from the club was far from seamless for these players. The ex-players, who contributed sweat, skill, and passion to secure the championship, find themselves in a dire predicament. They are grappling with unresolved financial burdens that cast a shadow over their otherwise victorious tenure.

Some players, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, shared their grievances. One ex-player questioned the discrepancy in treatment, highlighting that those who chose to remain with the club have been compensated for their efforts, leaving a glaring gap for those who departed. Another player revealed staggering figures: a four-month salary arrear, over 20 unpaid match bonuses, and outstanding payments related to clearance papers. The accumulating debts paint a distressing picture, amounting to a staggering total of 4,500,000 naira, which doesn’t even include the 20,000,000 naira that should have been distributed among the victorious squad for their championship triumph.

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The list of players who bid farewell to Enyimba FC following the expiration of their contracts is a testimony to their contribution: John Noble, a talented Super Eagles goalkeeper, Emeka Obioma, Phillip Ozor, Chigozie Obasi, Adekunle Adeleke, Fatai Abdullahi, Samuel Kalu, and Sadiq Abubakar, with three more players being released by mutual consent. These names, etched in the club’s history as champions, now find themselves in a struggle for their rightful earnings.

What exacerbates the issue is the veil of silence that often shrouds such situations. Players are wary of speaking out, fearing potential victimization, and thus many opt to voice their concerns anonymously. This unfortunate reality underscores a stark contrast between the freedom workers in other sectors have to demand their unpaid dues and the suppressed plight of NPFL players.

The distressing part is that Enyimba FC, under the leadership of the new chairman, former Nigerian International Kanu Nwankwo, has yet to respond to these rumors or take concrete steps to address the situation. The silence from the management has left a void, with the ex-players grappling with a growing sense of disillusionment and a feeling of being abandoned.

It is disheartening to witness a team that has reached the pinnacle of success treat its champions in such a manner. Enyimba Football Club’s ex-players, who proudly secured the NPFL title, deserve better. As they continue to bear the weight of unpaid salaries, withheld match bonuses, and overdue sign-on fees, the question remains: when will their sacrifice and dedication be acknowledged, and when will justice be served? The ex-players’ plight shines a spotlight on the urgent need for reform and fair treatment within Nigerian football, emphasizing that champions, both on and off the field, deserve their rightful rewards.