When your coach resigns 4 days before the biggest tournament in your country’s history things must be going badly wrong. But then things see to have been going wrong ever since Togo qualified for the World Cup finals for the first time. Otto Pfister’s resignation came in the wake of a long running dispute over bonuses. The players had refused to play unless they were each paid appearance bonuses of £100,000, win bonuses of £20,000 and £10,000 per draw. When the Togo FA refused to clear these, the players boycotted training sessions and it was at this point that Pfister decided he had had enough and quit.
This is not the first time that such a dispute has arisen. Back in January a similar row almost resulted in Togo not participating in the African Nations Cup. While the dispute was eventually resolved, it badly affected Togo’s performances and they crashed out of the tournament with scoring a goal.
It’s understandable that players look for and deserve reward for achieving success, especially when they come from one of the poorest countries in the world. They also have the right to feel angry when promises are not delivered. At the same time, the opportunity to play in a World Cup should provide enough motivation even if it is for free. The Togolese players should derive enough satisfaction from the joy the are giving their long suffering compatriots by representing them on a world stage. Further if it is finances they are concerned about, what better way to secure their futures than by catching the eye at a major tournament and securing a lucrative transfer. Refusing to play over money leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.