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Pay dispute

Moiz Munif
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

THE Fiji National Rugby League (FNRL) has maintained that Fiji's prizemoney from the 2017 Rugby League World Cup has not been paid.

Yesterday, two months after the Rugby League World Cup in Australia, FNRL chief executive officer, Timoci Naleba, revealed to this newspaper that the much talked about payment has not been released by the National Rugby League (NRL).

Naleba said he was in Australia last week for the Commonwealth 9s Championship where he met Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) official Tas Baitieri to resolve the issue. He was informed that the NRL needed to meet some Australian financial regulations before releasing the funds.

"NRL is cautious about having to disburse the funds," Naleba said.

"According to Australian regulations these players are NRL players and their contract are with their clubs. For example if NRL is going to give $3000 to a player, the authorities will ask why we are paying the player if the player is contracted.

"There will be all sorts of questions asked because of the legality of the transaction. They are trying to get all the authorities to approve the payment. Once done, they will release it (money) and they understand players need to be paid now, but they do not want to find themselves in a situation breaching Australian laws," Naleba said.

The issue was brought to light after some senior Fiji Bati squad members raised their concerns on the payment delay.

These players threatened to boycott representing the Fiji Bati if the issues were not resolved.

The players said they were faced with many issues with team apparel, team jerseys, passports being lost, reapplying for new passports, Visa issues and continuous late allowance payments.

"The latest and still ongoing issue is the non-payment of RLWC prizemoney in reaching the semi-final stage in November 2017.

"This statement is about setting a precedence in terms of a call for commitment, good practice and governance, transparency and ultimately, trust from the Fiji National Rugby League.

"We call for our 2017 RLWC prizemoney be paid now.

"It was within our RLWC playing contract that was agreed upon by both parties. It has been two months of waiting and we want the funds owed to us — now. We have waited long enough," the players statement said.

Naleba, in an earlier reply said the FNRL had directed the NRL to handle the players' payment.

"As per the agreement, NRL and the world cup have been authorised to distribute the prizemoney to all players' bank account. Not a single cent from the world cup prizemoney comes to FNRL," he said.

The Vodafone Fiji Bati ended its RLWC campaign after losing to Australia 6-54 in the semi-finals.

The Mick Potter-coached Fijians historically beat New Zealand 4-2 in the quarters and won its pool matches against USA (58-12), Wales (72-6) and Italy (38-10).

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