The National President of the Authentic Nigeria Football and Allied Sports Supporters Club, Abayomi Ogunjimi, has lamented the club’s inability to support the Super Falcons at the ongoing 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, after they were denied travel visas by the Australian Embassy.
Despite the visa setback, Ogunjimi praised the resilience of the Falcons, who secured a hard-fought victory over co-hosts Australia in their second group game. Despite being outnumbered in the stands, the nine-time African Champions emerged triumphant with a 3-2 victory in Brisbane on Thursday.
Following the game’s conclusion, Ogunjimi held a press conference at the ANFASSC Secretariat in Surulere, Lagos.
He expressed deep disappointment at the manner in which the supporters club was barred from attending the first two games, particularly the match against co-hosts Australia.
He alleged that the Australian Embassy deliberately kept them away, despite the supporters’ club fulfilling all the necessary requirements by submitting the requested documents through the online portal provided by the host nation.
“Their game plan is so obvious, the Australian Embassy are keeping us away intentionally, we would have been on ground to cheer our darling team to victory today (Thursday), but with or without us, our ladies stood tall and silenced their crowd. Football is not a do-or-die affair. We compete, we catch fun, we strive to thrive, but it’s sad that our entry documents have not been granted,” Ogunjimi said.
“We have been travelling and strongly supporting our athletes in various continents. It is just shocking that the Australian Embassy took us unaware. If you have hosting rights, you should accommodate everyone,” he added.
While appreciating the Nigeria Football Federation’s efforts, Ogunjimi urged the country’s football body to do more to prevent such situations in the future.
Nonetheless, Ogunjimi remains hopeful that the visa issue would be resolved before the Falcons’ last group game against the Republic of Ireland on Monday morning.
He added that were still hoping to travel to Australia if the Australian Embassy finally granted them visas, but called on the NFF to help the club secure a refund of the money spent on match tickets for the group stage, if they were not granted the visas.
“If the Australia Embassy can still have a change of mind and consider that we are patriotic supporters club members that have travelled far and wide and revisit our documents and issue our members travel visa, so that we can cheer our team to the level of the final, we will appreciate it. I think if they can achieve this type of result against the host nation without us, they can definitely get to the final if we are there. However, I think we deserve a refund, because we bought tickets for over 100 people,” Ogunjimi added.