So this is pretty horrifying.
The Nigerian Olympic men’s soccer team was en route to Brazil this week for the start of the 2016 Olympics. They’re due to start their campaign in Manaus tomorrow evening in their Group B clash with Japan. But they may not get there in time— because they’re stranded in Atlanta.
Apparently the NFF and the Nigerian government haven’t paid for the last leg of the journey, a charter flight from the US to Brazil. Officials with the Nigerian Football Federation are calling this a “logistical mix-up.”
”The Nigerian government [sports ministry] is responsible for booking the tickets for the team to travel but we heard there is a logistical mix-up with payments. The money paid by the ministry for the charter flight did not hit airline’s account on Tuesday so they refused to fly the team to Brazil.”
The NFF is blaming the mix-up on currency conversions. They’re reportedly working tirelessly to resolve the issue, although the squad members themselves aren’t sure when they’ll be underway. As one player noted: “We’ve been told to get ready to fly out in few hours but that’s been the story since last week.”
And so the Nigerian soccer team is just sort of stuck in Atlanta, with no idea when they’ll get moving, and with a massive game scheduled in less than 36 hours. This all sounds like a forgotten circle of hell.
If you’re at the Atlanta airport and you happen to see some lost and harried Nigerian footballers milling about, please bring them some snacks and share a few kind words.