Nigeria players huddle together after the group F World Cup soccer match between Nigeria and Argentina at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Wednesday, June 25, 2014.
First Cameroon. Then Ghana. And now Nigeria.
For the third time this month, a western African nation has had its World Cup campaign distracted by reports of a pay dispute between players and their national soccer federation.
A Nigerian training session was canceled on Thursday night amid reports that players were disgruntled about not being paid bonuses they were owed for reaching the World Cup's knockout stage after finishing second to Argentina in Group F. The reports prompted team media officer Ban Alaiya to insist that the Super Eagles will, in fact, travel from their Campinas headquarters to Brasilia for their round-of-16 match against France on Monday, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier this week, Ghana was also involved in a pay dispute. According to multiple reports, players were not paid the five-figure stipends they were owed for participating in the World Cup. The Ghana Football Federation released a statement on Wednesday that Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama had "personally spoke to the players" to ease any qualms they had about getting paid.
The controversy prompted some speculation that Ghanian players would refuse to participate in Thursday's critical Group G match against Portugal, but players insisted they would not boycott. A jet with $3 million in cash was then flown from Ghana to Brazil to pay the players.
Before the World Cup began, the Cameroonian team refused to board a flight to Brazil after a dispute with their national federation about World Cup bonuses. The dispute was resolved and the team left more than 20 hours later than scheduled.
Côte d'Ivoire and Algeria are the other two African nations who were among the World Cup's original 32 team field. Neither they, nor any of the other participating countries from around the world, have been involved in any reported pay disputes.