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Corruption In Sports

Amid Bribery Claims, Will Nigeria FA Punish Coach Salisu Yusuf?

The latest extension of Anas Aremeyaw Anas “Number 12” investigative episode has strengthened the popular notion that the main evil that plagues Nigerian football is corruption.

In the current episode released in recent weeks, Nigeria national team head coach Salisu Yusuf, who manages the Super Eagles Team B that comprises only locally based players, was caught on tape receiving ‘bribe’.

In the footage recorded in September 2017, Yusuf was offered a sum of $1000 from undercovers posing as agents in order to influence selection at the 2018 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN), a competition for players based in African domestic leagues that was hosted in Ghana.

Also, the former Kano Pillars manager was promised 15% from the players’ contracts should they get snapped up, with the gaffer in turn promising the agents spots for both players at the 2018 African Nations Championship in Morocco.

The players were not named in the footage as Nigeria went all the way to the finals, where they were handed a 4-1 defeat by hosts Ghana which was their only loss in the competition.

The video has however been refuted by Yusuf, who insists the money he received qualifies as a gift rather than a bribe as it fell within guidelines from the world governing body FIFA and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) about accepting gifts.

He said he neither promised nor committed to select the players nor asked for money, which he maintained was $750 not $1,000 as claimed.

Already NFF has started preliminary investigation on Yusuf in order to assist its Committee on Ethics and Fair-play.

A similar scandal led to the dissolution of the Ghanaian Football Association after its president was filmed receiving thousands of dollars. Several referees were also heavily punished by CAF for accepting cash bribes from the investigators.

It should be remembered that the much respected Yusuf was Gernot Rohr’s assistant to the recently concluded World Cup in Russia, where the Super Eagles were unable to navigate their way past Group D.

The 56-year-old came into national limelight when he was brought in Sunday Oliseh’s stead after the former Juventus’ player dismissal in 2016.

He masterminded friendly victories over Mali and Luxembourg before the Nigeria Football Federation announced Gernot Rohr as a substantive coach, whom he’s now an understudy to.

The vocabulary of football corruption is one Nigerians are fluent in, able to articulate their grief as Yusuf’s case is not the first one to have been reported in recent years. Who could forget that until 2006 it was still legal in this country to bribe referees? Or that 26 members of Nigeria’s under-20 side were recently announced over aged following bone marrow tests?

Labelled in some quarters as controversial, Anas’ revelation is an opportunity that brings with it the investigative scrutiny of the local federation as it steps up to clear the mess which could be blamed for the country’s   poor patronage of foreign investors.

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