Nigeria’s Super Eagles defender Leon Balogun has criticised the country’s sports authorities over the poor administration of the team.
Balogun expressed his grouse against Nigerian football administrators in an interview with “The Beautiful Game” podcast.
“You hear about other players and why can’t they not perform in the Super Eagles. We have to be honest, the infrastructure, we are not being provided with the best minerals to do our job,” Balogun said.
“It starts with pitches or it starts with accommodation but it goes on to pitches and all these kinds of things.
“And as I said I’m always quite outspoken, probably I know if some people hear that they might come after me but I don’t care because that’s just how it is.”
Balogun made his debut for the Nigerian national team in March 2014 for a friendly against Mexico as a replacement former captain Joseph Yobo.
Balogun entered at half-time but was injured after 20 minutes. He has since been a regular for the national team and won bronze at the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt.
His points of criticism of football administration in Nigeria – nonpayment of players, match bonuses, unorganised travel plans – are often identified as leading causes of underperformance by Nigerian teams in football and other sports.
Although not too many Nigerian players who are active in football criticises the administrators out of fear of being blacklisted from the team, Balogun said he is “not afraid to speak my mind even if it’s with the coach or the manager” or being dubbed as a “trouble maker.”
“About the bonuses, it’s not even a secret. I’ve read something recently where people in charge contradict themselves saying things have been paid then they admit they haven’t been paid,” Balogun said.
The Rangers defender said rather than speak the truth, “everybody is so concerned about the look of Nigeria and we that we have to represent Nigeria well and we cannot embarrass Nigeria” and tells authorities to “make sure you’re not embarrassing Nigeria with your own action.”
Balogun currently plays for Scottish champions Rangers where he won the Premier League title for Steven Gerrard’s side. He was instrumental to the club’s success with 15 appearances in the 2020/2021 season. Rangers won the league in an unbeaten run of 20 games.
“He’s come in and made the team and the squad a lot stronger,” Gerrard said of Balogun during negotiations for the extension of his contract with the Scottish champions.
Balogun joined Rangers from Wigan Athletic in August 2020. He has signed a contract extension to keep him at Rangers till 2022.