Dortmund: Togo’s turbulent debut at the World Cup took a dramatic new twist Sunday when Fifa was forced to intervene in an ugly pay dispute and convince the squad to play a crucial match against Switzerland.
Fifa spokesman Andreas Herren said soccer’s world governing body was forced to act after receiving reports that the players did not want to board a plane from their training base in southern Germany to the match venue in the central city of Dortmund.
“There were rumours that they did not want to travel and play,” Herren said. “This prompted us to open all contact channels to them to appeal to them to think of their responsibility to football and themselves and their country.
The team, the lowest ranked at the tournament, hit the headlines last week when coach Otto Pfister stormed out in protest at the player’s bonus protest and repeated no-shows at training.
The 68-year-old German only returned hours before the opening match against South Korea after desperate entreaties from his squad.
The Sparrow Hawks are fighting for survival in Group G, having lost 1-2 to South Korea.
Togolese federation spokesman Meslan Attolou said the rumbling dispute exploded anew Sunday when the players demanded the equivalent of euro 76,000 in cash. The government and soccer federation had offered the equivalent of euro 46,000.
He said efforts were being made to find a compromise. “The team will train and it will play,” he said.
However, this was only after Fifa warned that if the team boycotted Sunday’s training and Monday’s match it would be disqualified from the World Cup and face further sanctions from the disciplinary committee.
No team has ever boycotted a World Cup match since the tournament began in 1930.