The leadership crisis in the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is not new. Shortly after the emergence of Amaju Pinnick at the elections that took place in Warri, club owner, Chris Giwa, challenged the victory. In the past four years, the crisis remained prevalent. Sadly enough, just when normalcy was restored at the Glass House during the week, the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, surprisingly kicked, insisting on court orders which Giwa used to stay at the NFF secretariat between July 5 and 23. Dalung and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) are flexing muscles over the issue, but so far, General Secretary, NFF Muhammed Sanusi is still maintaining the stronghold of Pinnick’s administration which expires in about six weeks.
Two weeks ago, we condemned the unending crisis in the football house. We expect reasons to prevail so that the youth in the country would continue to enjoy the round leather game both at home and beyond.
However, the impasse over the leadership of NFF was enveloped by yet another crisis as the Super Eagles coach, Salisu Yusuf, was involved in a bribery scandal.
Yusuf was caught on camera taking cash from men posing as football agents. The footage was captured by Ghanaian journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, in September 2017. The report was broadcast for the first time by BBC Africa Eye last week Tuesday.
Salisu was filmed taking some cash from undercover investigators who claimed to be football agents to two Nigerian footballers that they wanted the coach to invite for the Africa Nations Championships (CHAN) tournament which took place last January in Morocco.
The agents offered Salisu $1,000 but the coach told the BBC that it was $750 and defended it as being within the limit of gifts FIFA ethics allowed. Salisu eventually invited the two players the agents had proposed, but there was no indication that the money offered influenced the invitation.
Also in the video, the undercover agents promised Salisu that he would receive 15 per cent of the contract money if any of the two players secured contract after CHAN
Salisu, who is currently in the United Kingdom for medical treatment, told the BBC that he did not ask the undercover reporters for money but rather they gave him as ‘gift’.
He also noted that the money was $750 and not $1,000, adding that the amount falls within gifts FIFA code allows.
We found it strange that Salisu himself has not come out to speak publicly on this grave allegation. The football federation after over 72-hour silence came out with a two-paragraph statement on Friday.
The NFF said it noted some media reports arising from the BBC documentary involving Yusuf who is billed to lead Nigeria’s U-23 team to the 2020 Olympic Games.
“For now, the NFF has commenced preliminary investigation into the matter to assist the Committee on Ethics and Fair play,” NFF’s Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire, said.
In his defence in response to the BBC, Yusuf said: “I did not breach FIFA or NFF ethics codes because the money did not influence my decision in selection of players. Selection must be based on consistency and form.”
It could be recalled that Anas has brought out dozens of reports indicting African football officials taking cash gifts from agents. Her recent report led to the collapse of Ghana Football Association as its President, Kwesi Nyantackhci, resigned.
Before now, many Nigerian coaches have been indicted over allegation of bribery and cash-for-shirts in the national teams and domestic clubs but none has been duly confirmed.
Based on the BBC video, we believe Yusuf’s situation is a bad case and a testimony to show that many Nigerian coaches are actually corrupt. We charge other coaches to learn from this sad story.
There are many footballers in the country who have fallen victims of corrupt coaches such that many of them could not attain their full potentials. Some of them from poor homes cannot afford the demands from the coaches. Findings have revealed that many children and relatives of highly-placed Nigerians get roles in the national teams with huge amount of cash given to the coaches.
The outcome of the NFF probe is important just as the public response of coach Yusuf, who was an assistant to Gernot Rohr at the Russia 2018 World Cup. We charge the federation to speed up the process and also warn all other coaches in the country to desist from corrupt practises.
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