A coach of the Nigeria national team, the Super Eagles, Salisu Yusuf, has been caught on camera receiving bribe.
Mr Yusuf is the head coach of the Super Eagles B team. He is also an assistant to Gernot Rohr in the main Eagles team just back from the Russia 2018 World Cup.
In a sting operation masterminded by Ghanaian investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, and aired on the BBC, Mr Yusuf was caught on camera taking cash from men posing as football agents.
After a conversation about player selection, the head coach is seen taking a handful of cash. The impostors wanted two Nigerian players to be picked in the (then) upcoming African Nations Championships. After Mr Yusuf had taken the money, they alluded to other incentives like the coach getting 15 per cent of the player’s contract after their selection.
PREMIUM TIMES spoke with some football agents on the development and they confirmed that it is the norm in football circles in Nigeria. They said the corruption is killing the chances of true talents making the limelight.
Francis Abiodun a Lagos-based football agent, said he has been a victim as one of his players (name withheld) was once denied a chance to play for the Nigeria U-20 team, the Flying Eagles, years back because he could not meet the financial demands of the coaches.
“It is more like a norm in Nigeria football and across Africa, but I don’t know of other climes. Remember what Kylian Mbappe’s father reportedly said about FA officials demanding money from him before they could allow his son to play for Cameroon.
Mr. Abiodun advocated for an agency like the EFCC that could checkmate the excesses of the coaches and to whom reports can be made when players or agents are made to part with money and gifts before their wards are selected.
On whether Mr Yusuf should be left off the hook having stoutly defended himself that he never sought for the inducement but was willingly given to, the agent, who has successfully brokered deals for a couple of Nigerian players to other African Leagues and Eastern Europe, said he must be brought to book.
“Frankly, Salisu is not the only one doing this but he must be brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
For the CEO of Capital Sports Agency, Rotimi Martins, he feels that Mr Yusuf was actually set up by powers that be because they don’t want him any longer.
He argues that the coach earns far above what he was filmed collecting as a bribe.
“I think someone is just trying to get rid of him, there is something is fishy”
The agent confirmed that coaches of national teams often receive monetary inducements as it aids the selling price of players.
“Many agents offer coaches money because once it is on record that a player has featured for any of the national teams, it helps market the player and increases it’s worth” the CEO of Capital Sports Agency admitted.
Mr. Martins concluded that the entire country is at the receiving end when coaches take bribe to play certain players.
“What it means is that the best players don’t get to play for the country and we don’t get the best results if only those that can bribe their ways feature for the national teams,” he posited
The embattled Mr Yusuf is one of the most respected coaches in Nigerian football.
He is scheduled to lead the national team to the Olympics in 2020.
The Nigeria Football Federation is yet to react to the video of the bribery involving the coach.
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