Like FIFA bigwigs were exposed for receiving bribes to vote in favour of World Cup bidding nations plus other underground corrupt deals which led to the tsunami that swept the Sepp Blatter led executive away, Super Eagles assistant coach cum U-23 Eagles head coach, Salisu Yusuf has been exposed for collecting bribe to invite players into his CHAN squad.
That is the sad and ugly news making mockery of Nigeria football whose image had already been battered by the leadership cum legitimacy war between the Pinnick Melvin Amaju led board and Chris Giwa faction.
Like the Amaju versus Giwa crisis, I have tried to keep off this issue for very obvious reasons while waiting for the legitimate leadership of the Football House and the so called stakeholders to speak on this very disheartening development and take a decisive step but, while I delay, the burning issue keeps dousing with each passing day as it has always been with our tradition here…..sweeping serious matters under the carpet and allowing time to “swallow” such matters.
Yes, the NFF may in its wisdom or thinking decide to fire Salisu or Salisu may as well chose to resign but I dare say, it does not end there. You ask, why? Salisu is not alone in this act. We should not pretend about it. We should not adopt the old saying of all dogs eat faeces but it is the one caught with faeces on its mouth that is known as shit-eater.
Let me remind us that Salisu has not spent upto 15 years in any level of the national team put together, therefore, if in less than 15 years or more of staying with the national teams or being under the employment of the NFF, he could be doing this then, he surely learnt the act or betterstill “inherited” it from his predecessors or those he met on the job. In other words, this “business” of coaches receiving bribes or “gratification” to invite players into the national team did not start with Salisu Yusuf. It must have been existing even in the clubs because it is the same club coaches that are drafted or employed or hired by the NFF to handle the various national teams.
So, it is expected that a thorough investigation is carried out if possible and if it’s outcome won’t end in some abandoned offices, table-lockers/drawers or some miserable files in the NFF. The whole idea or exercise is to fish out the bad eggs killing Nigeria’s football through this means of not allowing the real and best talents to feature in the national team by way of receiving bribes from carpenters, vulcanizers and cobblers to take the places of pure talents.
I hear some commentators who have not hidden their hatred for our local coaches say, “this is why local coaches cannot make any meaningful impact and therefore, should not be employed to handle the Super Eagles”. I laugh and remind them of the scandal that rocked Italian football to its very foundation some years ago. Big time coaches, agents, scouts, players and FA members were indicted and decisively dealt with after a thorough and conclusive investigation.
Those coaches or managers indicted in that scandal are not Nigerians but Italians. A few of them have even led countries to the World Cup. That incident did not stop Italian football from progressing neither did it stop Italian FA from appointing coaches for Azurris from Italy. Truth is that they handled the scandal and it’s investigation thoroughly, transparently and professionally. They got result by weeding out the bad eggs from the Italian football system. A top club like Juventus was even sent on relegation for two seasons after points were deducted from its overall haul. No politics, no sympathy.
Recall that Sam Allardyce was caught in a near similar scandal and the needful was done. Note that Allardyce is not a Nigerian, more so, the FA didn’t stop appointing English or British coaches to lead the Three Lions on account of Allardyce’s disgraceful act. Gareth Southgate qualified and led England to Russia. Southgate is not a Nigerian.
Ghanaian football is passing or going through a phase at the moment. A very bitter and perhaps regrettable phase but it is bent on putting things straight after this period. For the GFA President to resign almost immediately the scandal broke out shows deliberate commitment and determination to stamp out evil and put things right. If what happened in Ghana had been here, some people would have been talking tribe, religion, closeness to corridor of power and all that.
In a situation whereby staff and board members of an FA are all players’ agents why won’t we have such acts of coaches receiving bribes to invite players into the national team. Haven’t we heard of NFF topguns harassing, intimidating and armtwisting coaches to invite their players and even pick them for games?
How do these coaches even get appointed? Is it through a transparent process of screening and interview? Or a kangaroo set up meant to handpick friends, kinsmen and associates? Are the coaches hired by the NFF the best or most qualified? What about the issue of either deliberately withholding the entitlements of the coaches as a means or ploy to frustrate them for not towing the line of some influential persons in the FA or outrightly delaying their salaries for as many as 10 months? Can’t this lead a coach who doesn’t have self-control to receive bribe? There are several other issues linked to this unfortunate act.
Only God knows how many potential World Cup winners and world footballers of the year, Nigeria has lost through this disgusting act by coaches which did not start today.
I make bold to however, say, Salisu Yusuf’s act should not imply that all local or indigenous coaches receive bribe.
In every 12, there must be a Judas just as there is a Peter.
All Nigerian coaches are not “bribe-takers” even if many do.
For those suggesting that local coaches should henceforth not lead Super Eagles, please remember that Late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi led Super Eagles to winning South Africa 2013 AFCON and went ahead to qualify his team for Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup. Keshi’s team finished in the Round of 16 but the Russia 2018 World Cup Eagles ended their outing in the group stage.
Late Shuaibu Amodu qualified Nigeria twice for the World Cup yet he is an indigenous coach.
Samson Siasia led U-20 and U-23 Eagles to silver and bronze medals winning feats in Holland 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Beijing 2008 Olympics and Rio 2016 Olympics respectively. He is an indigenous coach…Whoever wants the NFF to continue hiring foreign coaches for the Super Eagles is indirectly telling us to also employ a foreign President for NFF. Short and simple.
The bribe scandal which has to consume Salisu Yusuf, yes, it must consume him may not be the only scandal that will rock Nigeria’s football….sooner or later we will find out why some national youth team players dread some coaches and even leave camp voluntarily without being expelled. Truth is Nigeria football needs a total purge! A lot of filthy and rotten things go on underneath. May be Salisu Yusuf’s bribe scandal will trigger off more burning issues of national concern on Nigeria’s football.
By Desmond Ekwueme