Togo's long-running payment saga about to end

June 20, 2006

BERLIN, June 20 (Reuters) - The long-running saga over the outstanding wages and bonuses owed to Togo's players will be resolved in the next few days with FIFA ensuring they are paid.

The money was not being provided by soccer's world governing body but FIFA would ensure it was paid out of Togo's World Cup payment account of seven million Swiss francs ($5.66 million), said FIFA's director of communications Markus Siegler.

'The money is being paid by the Togolese FA out of their account,' Siegler told reporters at FIFA's daily media briefing on Tuesday.

'It is not additional money, it is money that belongs to the Togo FA. It is being drawn from their account and paid to the players. And that is, finally, the end of the matter.'

The pay dispute began before the tournament started and looked at one point as if it would disrupt Monday's match against Switzerland, which eventually was played.

Togo lost 2-0 and were eliminated from the finals. They have one remaining match against France on Friday before their chaotic World Cup debut comes to a close.

Late on Sunday the players agreed to lower their initial demands of 155,000 euros ($196,300) each to play and 30,000 euros each for a win.

Siegler would not confirm the final agreed figure being paid to the players.

Players have given mixed reactions to how the dispute affected their game during the finals, which opened with a 2-1 defeat by South Korea followed by the 2-0 reverse to the Swiss.

'It was not ideal and, of course, it had an affect on the team. Football is also a mental game and this tired us and drained our spirits,' said forward Mohamed Kader Coubadja.

But he hoped the strong performances by his team would overshadow the problems off the pitch.

Midfielder Thomas Dossevi said the pay dispute had not influenced Togo's showing against Switzerland.

However, Togo's German coach Otto Pfister told a news conference on Monday that such rows did affect the nerves.

'It was not just turbulent working here, it has also been extremely difficult. Also for the players,' he said.

Pfister walked out on the team just before the tournament, saying the pay row made it impossible to do his job. However, he returned just in time for their first match.