The Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, may be dragged to court by Wakanow.com, its official travel partners.
The travel company, which paid NFF a huge sum for the privilege of becoming NFF’s official travel partners, is angry at the federation’s refusal to get FIFA to intervene on its behalf in a matter between the company and the Brazilian aviation authorities.
Last Wednesday, Wakanow officials were left squirming, following a last-minute collapse of the company’s arrangements to move about 600 Nigerian fans from Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre, venue of the Super Eagles’ last group stage match with Argentina.
The arrangements collapsed because the Brazilian aviation authorities insisted on having Wakanow fly the fans to Porto Alegre in small, propeller engine planes being used in the country instead of a Boeing 767 200 plane the company had chartered.
At the last minute, the country’s aviation authorities announced their refusal of a landing permission to the chartered aircraft, which was to fly in from the United States of America.
This resulted in the company’s inability to airlift many fans, who were disappointed at not being able to watch the match at the stadium in Porto Alegre. The travel company had to resort to eleventh-hour purchase of commercial carriage for the fans, which meant the majority of the fans could not get seats.
Efforts by Wakanow to get FIFA involved through the NFF, which it paid for the privilege of becoming official travel partners, were not complemented by the federation. Wakanow was, therefore, left to deal directly with FIFA, a move that produced no result.
“It was a clear case of sabotage. We played everything by the book, but we were left disappointed. Even on the issue of match tickets, NFF kept telling us there were no tickets, while they were selling them in the black market or giving them out as gifts at match venues,” said a top Wakanow source.
The source added that the company may consider seeking legal redress for the ill-treatment it got from the NFF.
Wakanow’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Obinna Ekezie, who led the company’s team to Brazil, apologised for the company’s inability to move the fans to the match venue.
The company also announced compensatory packages for affected fans. Options provided are extension of stay to watch the Super Eagles’ second round match against France on Monday, flight tickets to a number of international destinations including London, Australia and China or monetary compensation.
Many of the fans have accepted the offers of compensation.
Top officials of the company spent the better part of Wednesday meeting with the fans they brought to Brazil in hotels in Sao Paulo, where they were presented with the compensatory options.