Two Nigerian soccer players have accused a Portuguese club of gross mistreatment after they allegedly refused a pay cut at the start of the 2016-2017 season. In a flurry of tweets on Thursday, BBC sports writer Oluwashina Okeliji outlined the accusations of strikers Uche Nwofor and Michael Uchebo, who alleged that top-tier team Boavista treated them “like a slave” at the end of their tenures. The players, both of whom played elsewhere in Europe, as well as on Nigeria’s 2014 World Cup team, said Boavista executives have refused to pay them their salaries. The players also say club executives isolated them from the rest of the team, including barring them from training and other events. “(It’s) a crazy situation,” Nwofor, 25, told Okeleji. “We had to start keeping evidence. You’re working, they don’t pay you and use security to harass you. This is slavery.” Nwofor and Uchebo reportedly recorded video of their interactions with Boavista security personnel, which Okeleji posted to Twitter on Thursday.
“They are gangsters. They force you to reduce salary or force you out. In France and Germany (these) cruel things don’t happen,” Nwofor said. “I asked Boavista why,” Uchebo, 26, added. “They won’t say a word.” Uchebo is no longer under contract with Boavista, according to TransferMarkt.com, which tracks world players’ movements between clubs. According to the website, his contract was terminated in July and he is unaffiliated with any team. Nwofor, meanwhile, agreed to terminate his contract with Boavista in September, Okeleji reports, and has since signed with Slovakia’s AC Trencin. However, he is reportedly continuing to seek $110,000 in what he claims is back compensation, according to sports agent Kobe Benson. “The club Boavista is a notoriously dishonest side with no respect for FIFA rules/regulations,” Benson told Okeleji on Thursday, adding the players have “no options but to report [the club] to the authorities.” He added: “With the amount of evidence, I have no doubt that they will be punished severely.” Benson did not detail which authorities might get involved, although Portuguese sports newspaper Record reported earlier this month that Uchebo, who had been making roughly $20,000 per month with the team, filed legal action over his situation. Boavista executives did not answer Okeleji’s request for comment, but on Tuesday, they denied Uchebo and Nwofor’s accusations, which have been widely publicized in Portuguese press. “We will not speak publicly about this subject anymore … that has called into question the good name of Boavista,” the club, which currently stands in eighth place among Portugal’s first-tier teams, said in a strongly worded statement. “(We) will continue … to defend the institution and will not yield to media or other pressures transmitting falsehoods.”