Liberia missed out on a place at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World after finishing third in Group C behind Nigeria and Cape Verde.
However, the country earned six points out of a possible 18 with back-to-back wins against the Central African Republic as the only victories the team recorded throughout the qualifiers.
While the result might be a poor run for the Lone Star under Coach Peter James Butler in this qualification process, there are more things than technical that might have affected the team’s morale.
Yes, it’s a fact that Liberia couldn’t see off a CAF ban of the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex which failed to meet the standards prescribed by FIFA and the Confederation.
This, however, saw the Lone Star moving to exile, playing their home games in; Cameroon, Ghana, and Morocco, respectively. It is not an excuse for losing because you can win from anywhere but the home support counts.
But the crux is that Liberian players were among the least paid players per Match Appearance fees and game bonuses during the qualifiers. I am however taking a case study with our Group winners in Nigeria.
Each player at the level of the National Team earned US$1,000.00 for appearance fees, “which means when you joined, from wherever you came, you got US$1,000 for agreeing to play for Liberia in that match.|
This figure is nine thousand dollars short of the eventual group winners, Nigeria, who paid an appearance fee of ten thousand United States dollars for its players.
Liberian players were also promised a game bonus of US$2,000 if they won a match in the qualifiers. This means the team needed to win a match for players to get at least three US$3,000. This amount is three thousand dollars short of the eventual group winners, Nigeria, whose match bonuses outside of other donations, are US$5,000.
With facts being Constant each Liberian player earned US$9,000 for the entire qualifying round, which includes appearance fees and bonuses.
This means that for the entire Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers, a Lone Star player could not even earn a one-match appearance fee for a member of the Super Eagles Squad.
Each member of the Nigerian Team that finished first in Group C with 13 points, seven points ahead of Liberia, and four wins against Liberia’s two wins, pocketed at least forty-five thousand United States dollars ($45,000.00 USD).
This speaks to the fact that the team was motivated and they had to give the Nigerians the result they needed because they got what was needed. “The tool to do the work” was on hand. But for Liberia, we were short of that motivation.
A well-placed source in the team hinted to me that even recently-added players on the squad were not happy with their earnings playing for the National Team.
A long-time player on the squad hinted to me and begged not to be named: “How will we win when we are not satisfied? For us to even get to the match venue is not easy, we get there two to three days, which is not enough to get us adjusted, especially when we have new guys in the team,” the player disclosed.
“We are giving our all for the Country and need to be encouraged and well-compensated. With that, you can have bigger claims on our head or you can even chop our heads off if we don’t give the needed results” he explained.
In an attempt to confirm the figures the Liberian players are alleged to be receiving, I called up Deputy Sports Minister G. Andy Quamie via WhatsApp, because he’s away from Liberia. The Minister could not give a definite response but directed me to the Liberia Football Association which, he said, manages affairs of the Lone Star.
My fact-finding mission at the Liberian FA confirmed that the players were receiving the figures mentioned above.
LFA Deputy Communications Manager, Benjamin Garkpa confirmed that: “The players get one thousand United States Dollars for appearance, which is immediate and I think about two thousand dollars for winning bonuses, which I know was given when the team returned to Liberia.”
This speaks exactly to the fact that Liberia’s problems were even more off the field than on the field. Our players were demotivated and lacked encouragement from the government that is supposed to fund the national team.
For instance, a budget of US$350,000 for the last two matches was slashed by US$50,000 when we were no longer paying for venues to play our last Group matches against Nigeria and the Central African Republic.
I can confirm that the Liberia Football Association and the Morocco FA partnership saved the Country over US$30,000 for venue rental. The last time, Liberia paid Ghana US$15,000 in order to host Cape Verde in Accra, outside paying security and other match-associated costs.
This is a wake-up call for President George Weah that his dear Lone Star is struggling off the field. What is seen on the field during match days is just a product of the off-field struggles. He needs to wake up and make the Country competitive in the football world.