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The Falconet’s flight debacle, a show of shame or quick to judge?




Falconets sleep on Turkey airport floor on return to Nigeria [Colin Udoh]
Falconets sleep on Turkey airport floor on return to Nigeria [Colin Udoh]
It is no longer news that the under 20 side of the Nigeria female football team, known as the falconets, were seen lying on the floors of the Istanbul airport in Turkey for almost 24 hours trying to catch a connecting flight back to Nigeria after being eliminated from the under 20 women’s world cup in Costa Rica. 

This single event of the images of the girls sleeping on the floor that flooded the internet drew heavy criticism from journalists, fans, and countrymen alike, as almost everyone threw the whole blame at the feet of the sports minister and the Nigerian football federation ( NFF).

The knives were all out for the sports minister. Sunday Dare though unfair but rightly so depending on which side of the divide you align with, may be due to ignorance or past precedence from the dealings of the sports ministry and those in charge of the affairs of the ministry.

Prominent Nigerian sports journalists, former government officials, celebrities, and fans took to their social media platforms such as Twitter to vent their anger and also to ask for answers as to why the girls were neglected.

 Mozez Praiz, a nigerian model and tv presenter wrote on his handle 

Sad to see our #Falconets stranded in #Instabul for 24 HOURS! Sleeping on the airport floor and chairs All down to poor logistical plans by the #NFF This will never happen to the #SuperEagles Is it wrong to apply same seriousness to these young girls welfare? #Oshisko 

Senator Shehu Sani also wrote, The images of the Falconets sleeping on the floor at the Istanbul Airport is sad and http://unfortunate.No FG elected or appointed official will be treated as such.

Nigeria Tv sensation and actress Kate Henshaw was not left out as she also took to her twitter handle to ask the very question on the lips of all well meaning Nigeria. “The @thenff says the falconets missed their flight so that justifies sleeping on the floor at the airport?? When the Oga misses his flight, does he do same?? For a 24 hour layover?? You people will always get your comeuppance one day…This is not a curse but a fact!!!”

The reactions and criticism from fans and patriots were so brutal and at the same time honest because they were coming from a place of hurt, disappointment, and neglect shown to these young patriots who should have been celebrated instead of being neglected. That resulted in what was likened to a show of shame and national disgrace.

 What has happened to the Falconets is unfortunate and regrettable. In truth, it was a series of unfortunate events (unavoidable but poorly managed). The NFF and the sports ministry have their own faults in other areas, but on this issue, it’s hard to fault them.


The Nigeria football federation (NFF) explained that a number of factors, including the inability to secure transit visas for players and officials of the U20 Girls at the Istanbul Airport, led to the team having to stay for 24 hours at the airport.

The NFF explained that they were not responsible for booking the team’s tickets from Costa Rica, as FIFA did.

 FIFA also did not envisage the hitches that saw the team delayed for more than three hours in Bogota and another one hour in Panama. By the time the team got to Istanbul, the flight to Abuja had left.

The NFF officials pleaded for compassionate transit visas so as to take the players and officials to a hotel inside the town, but this was not possible as they were informed that Nigeria had been removed from the list of countries whose citizens were issued visa-on-arrival in Turkey.

The airline then took the team to a sleeping area at the airport and gave them tickets to have meals every five hours. This situation has nothing to do with NFF, who had made arrangements to receive the team in Abuja before the complications in travel arrangements.

Sports Editor/Sportscaster Classic FM 97.3, Lagos Temisan Okomi took to his twitter account ( to give a proper breakdown of what transpired

Still not satisfied with these explanations, fans still felt that there are basic things the ministry would have put in place to cushion this kind of shame because it would have been near impossible for privileged government officials to find themselves in this kind of situation without providing a solution, but because these girls were not elilist, they were neglected. A twitter user name Japee and King Davis felt the explanation given were not cogent enough for them to look away or absorve those incharge of negligence.

Emmanuel Iwegbulam  @IObinna1also commenting on his twitter handle to Temisan’s explanation, he went further to ask a question.

Fair explanation from the football house. A question though. If it were the super eagles in the same situation, would they have been left to sleep on chairs and on the ground at the airport? “

The answer is an emphatic “NO,” because the super eagle would not be in this situation because they always use chartered flights for their travels. This singular act is another reason why there have been yearnings that the sports ministry needs proper funding because it is underfunded. To put things in perspective, out of the entire budget for the ministry of youth and sports development, less than 5% is budgeted for sports and their development.

While speaking on the Tuesday edition of Sport Buffet on, football analyst Edafe Matthew Eseoghene was of the opinion that the sports ministry should be separated from youth development and only then can the ministry be adequately funded to achieve its potential.

While it is very important that we ask questions and throw the blame on the feet of those in positions of leadership, it is also important that we get our facts right while trying to ask the right questions.



Peter Enwenode

Peter Enwenode is an engineer, football analyst, writer, Content creator and farmer. He is a football analyst and writer for Elegbete tv/radio, an online media house in Nigeria. He has been in around the media space for more than 8 years with several radio shows to his name such as "9jafooty science" and "Dem-say Dem-say sports corner" He's the co-founder of Node agro-farms which specialises in Horticulture farming and agricultural consultant services.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Sodiq Suara

    The lack of trust ànd past experiences In the NFF is the cause of the outrage by Nigerians

    1. Peter Enwenode

      I agree with you 100% and most of the time, fans fail to understand that the ministry lacks proper funding.

  2. Olayinka

    I won’t entirely fault the fans because most don’t really trust the football body but still we need to let ourselves not be controlled by emotions and stick to finding out facts before throwing fault around.
    And I totally agree with the solution Edafe Matthew provided.

  3. Heney Umoru

    The fact that we’ve never seen any top govt official sleeping in the airport doesn’t mean they don’t face same but they never take pictures of themselves and put on social media for the world to see.
    We should stop propagating things that will diminish Nigeria and begin to propagate only the good news of our country to the outside world….
    Eg. Like the England and USA does.

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