GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP / Getty
The Democratic Republic of Congo is on strike.
On Friday, just three days before DR Congo begins its Africa Cup of Nations campaign against Morocco, the Leopards boycotted their training session due to reduced bonus payments and payments owed from 2015. The national team finished third at the last edition of the tournament, but its players insist they’ve yet to be compensated for the accolade.
“This has been happening for years and years,” Youssouf Mulumbu said. “We always prepare well but there is always a problem with bonuses.”
Yannick Bolasie, who’s missing AFCON because of a serious ligament injury, echoed Mulumbu’s words, telling BBC Sport: “It is not a great situation because you want to be focused on the first game. If three days before the first game you are concerned about not being paid and you are boycotting training, what kind of preparation is that?
“Even once you do get paid you can’t just switch your focus and think everything is all right. You need three or four days to prepare – it is crucial. I understand the issues because I have been through it. When I have been with the squad I’ve tried to block it out because I don’t want it to affect my game.
“This is the first time I am seeing the situation from the outside and it is really disturbing. The government should have sorted the issues so that everything is smooth.”
A delegation of 100 officials, led by Willy Bakonga, DR Congo’s sports minister, is reportedly heading to Gabon to address the issue.