Money issues dog AFCON minnows

These developments, as is characteristic, come just days before they head to the African Nations Cup finals.

Players from Guinea Bissau, who will debut at the tournament in Gabon which starts on Saturday, met with the country’s president in an effort to solve the impasse after bonus money promised them for qualifying for the finals was not paid over, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported on Sunday.

Zimbabwe’s players stood up their country’s acting president when they refused to attend to a send-off dinner to in a bid try and force an improved offer on their tournament appearance fee.

Players want $5 000 per game the tournament, which starts on Saturday, but were only being offered half that.

The dinner went ahead without the squad but agreement has since been reached to share the proceeds from the tournament between the players and Zimbabwe’s bankrupt football association, local media reported on Sunday.

Three Guinea Bissau players met with President Jose Mario Vaz, but it was not clear whether they had received any of the promised payments.

Guinea Bissau’s government had also promised money to pay for tournament preparations but Guinea Bissau have not played any warm-up friendlies nor travelled outside of the country for a promised camp.

The team’s departure on Wednesday for Gabon, where they play the opening game of the Nations Cup against the hosts in Libreville, is also in doubt, the agency added.

Guinea Bissau is one of the world’s poorest countries and its team have been regular embroiled in disputes over money.

Zimbabwean football is also beset with cash issues as their association in millions in arrears and often needs benefactors to bail them out.

“We are not asking for much, we know what we want as a team and we submitted our proposal long back but no-one listened to us,” Zimbabwe captain Willard Katsande told local radio.

Before the last World Cup, Cameroon players delayed the departure of their charter to Brazil as the haggled over money while Ghana’s players refused to train before their last group game, forcing their government to fly a charter jet over with cash to appease the players.

Broken promises over payments to players is a regular feature of the game in Africa, where footballers see the timely staging of sit-ins as the method to force the hand of administrators.