A benefactor will give $200,000 to Nigeria’s Olympic football team, in addition to a $30,000 bonus to each player, if they win gold in Rio de Janeiro.
The Super Eagles face Germany in the semifinals on Wednesday, with Brazil taking on Honduras in the other match, as they chase a second Olympic title, having emerged victorious in 1996.
Japanese plastic surgeon Katsuya Takasu told BBC Sport that he wants to reward the team after hearing about their financial problems, promising to pay out $20,000 to each player for winning silver and $10,000 for claiming bronze.
Before arriving in Rio, the Nigeria squad were held up in Atlanta, United States, because of a problem with the payment for their flight, landing in Brazil just hours before their opening game against Japan, which they won 5-4, while they boycotted a training session in a dispute over pay ahead of their 2-0 quarterfinal victory over Denmark
“I read about the financial problems affecting the team and I felt the need to make a big contribution,” Takasu told BBC Sport. “I’ve made previous donations to a Japanese hockey team and other notable causes in the past but this right now with Nigeria is incredibly passionate for me.
“I am deeply determined to motivate this indomitable and strong Nigerian team. I don’t want to distract them but to push them further to their target — the gold in Brazil. I hope to see them win gold. They’ve sacrificed a lot to get to Brazil and reach the semifinals. Humans with such a strong spirit should be encouraged to perform beyond their own imagination.”
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) says it is flattered by Takasu’s offer, but that the team must first focus on securing gold.
“I have been in direct contact with Mr. Takasu and am impressed by his gesture,” NFF vice-president Seyi Akinwunmi told BBC Sport. “But we need not get carried away because the integrity of the country is at stake. First we must check about this. Significantly, the team has an important game and we need to focus on that.”
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