Spanish La Liga 2 club, SD Huesca has terminated the contract they had with Nigerian midfielder Kelechi Nwakali because he represented Nigeria at the just concluded African Cup of Nations in Cameroon. Kelechi Nwakali says the club axed his contract because he was called up to play for Nigeria “against their will”, and also owed him wages.
The player’s contract termination was announced on the club’s website on Tuesday where they wrote, “The club ends the contractual relationship that linked the Barca entity with the footballer, and which expired in June 2022.”
After the announcement of his contract termination with SD Huesca, Kelechi Nwakali in a statement on Wednesday accused the club’s Sporting Director, Ruben Garcia of being the brain behind the termination. He said in an official statement that the saga started when he got called up to the Nigeria squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, but Ruben Garcia asked him not to honour the invite as it was ‘not being an important tournament.’
Below is the full transcript of Kelechi Nwakali’s official statement
“It comes with huge regret that I am writing this message after SD Huesca announced the termination of my contract. I have kept silent out of respect for the Huesca fans and my teammates, but I will no longer suffer in silence. The time has come for people to know the truth and why these past few months have been awful for me and my family.
“In Dec 2021, I experienced the biggest honour of my life after I received a full international call up for my beloved Nigeria. But the joy of this moment quickly came crashing down when the club’s Sporting Director, Ruben Garcia, put extreme pressure on me not to go to AFCON due to it ‘not being an important tournament’. He told me that if I go to AFCON I will not play for Huesca again.
“This behaviour and the lack of respect shown to my country Nigeria was truly heart-breaking and it was just the latest example of the club attempting to bully me into getting their own way.
“For months the club has been abusing its power to bully me into signing a new contract.
“These tactics have included paying me late on numerous occasions. The breakdown in negotiations came when my mother fell ill and I asked Ruben for the wages the club already owed me in order to pay for my Mother’s hospital bill and treatment. Ruben Garcia responded to my request by saying ‘Sign this new contract and we will pay you what’s owed tonight’
“But despite these actions, I was not going to allow the club to stop me from representing my country at one of the biggest international tournaments in the world and I was honoured to join my teammates in Cameroon.
“Before Nigeria’s last 16 game against Tunisia on 23rd January 2022, I began to feel unwell and was diagnosed with a Respiratory Tract Infection. As a result, I was not fit enough to play in the game against Tunisia. After we were eliminated from the tournament I was unable to return to the club immediately as planned because of my illness following advice from the Doctor.
“Then, on the last day of the transfer market (January 31, 2022) when I was in the process of returning to join my teammates at Huesca, Ruben Garcia rang me to tell me I had to leave the club after a late offer came in from another La Liga 2 club. He threatened that he would not pay me if I did not leave the club. The option that was given to me was to leave or we will open up disciplinary action. Before January 31st, I was never told by the club that they wanted to let me leave in January and this was not a decision that I felt was right for me at the time.
“After returning to the club on February 1st, Ruben Garcia and the club’s lawyers opened disciplinary proceedings against me, suspending me from training and banning me from the training ground. As a result, I had to seek the help of the Spanish Footballers Union
“(The AFE) who have been in an ongoing dispute with Huesca. After over a month passed, the club allowed me back into the training ground but have been forcing me to train on my own and have not been allowing me to use the facilities or receive treatment from the club physios.
“Throughout this time, Huesca have not paid my wages, yet I have remained silent hoping that a reasonable resolution could be found. But yesterday when I turned up to the training ground, a member of the club tried to force me to sign mutual termination papers which I refused to do. I have a family that depends on me, and no player should have to go through this inhumane treatment.
“I will never regret my decision to represent Nigeria and all I want to do is get back to playing the sport I love.
“Lastly, I want to thank the fans and my teammates of Huesca who have been amazing during my time here. I have always given 100% for the club, despite my treatment over the past 3 years.”