Why NFF Must Probe Taye Taiwo’s Bribery Allegation | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why NFF Must Probe Taye Taiwo’s Bribery Allegation

Posted: Jul 4, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chibuike Chukwu  Lagos

Taiye Taiwo blossomed into the national scene in 2005 as a member of the Flying Eagles team that won the Africa Youth Championship that held in Cotonou, Benin Republic that year.



He was named a member of the team that took part in the World Youth Championship now FIFA U-20 World Cup in Netherlands same year. The team placed second behind Argentina. Shortly afterward, he was invited into the Super Eagles where he was capped 54 times.

Since losing his place in the team shortly before the 2010 World Cup, he has remained in limbo. But last week, he caused a stir when he said that players pay their ways to the national team, though exonerating himself from the dastardly act.

“Unlike others, I didn’t offer gifts to the Nigeria coach to be selected,” he told Football Africa 365. “Unfortunately, it’s still happening.”

Former Super Eagles coach, Clemence Westerhof, in 2013, caused uproar when he alleged that players bribed their way into the national team.

He made the allegation in an interview published by SuperSport.com then, saying, those players who did not merit a place in the team got call-ups after giving money to the selectors.

“We had a situation where we had the wrong people in the wrong places, even in the (Nigeria) FA.

“We had cases where players paid $15,000 to the coach and say ‘I want to play for the national team’ and the coach would accept. They bought their way into the national team and it was an unbelievable situation. I know these things,” Westerhof said.

Even before Westerhof made his allegation, Coach Adegboye  Onigbinde, who coached the team to the 2002 World Cup in Japan was believed to have rejected a $30,000 offer from a player’s agent for a player who later made the team to the 2010 World cup in South Africa.

Taiwo’s allegation seems to confirm the widely-held belief among Nigerians that unmerited made their way into the Super Eagles on account of their financial inducement to the coaches.

This is because, more often than not, Nigerians have witnessed situations where unfit, club less and out-of-form players were taking to major tournaments, with the coaches defending their choice on the mandate given to them to freely choose their players.

There are diverse implications of the allegation. First, it casts a big shadow on the country’s football, presenting Nigerian coaches as unprofessional and those whose main interest is gratification.

Secondly, the allegation has made mockery of the NFF before its counterparts around the world. For the fact that Taiwo granted foreign media interview where he made the weighty allegation makes it the more damaging to the nation’s football.

Consequently, Nigeria football followers may have heaved a sigh of relief, believing that their fears have merely been confirmed by Taiwo. The allegation will likely affect the confidence the football public have on their national team coaches.

This is why the NFF should stop at nothing to get to the root of the matter. It should invite Taiwo to throw more light on the allegation.

Thirdly, based on the weighty nature of the allegation, the football house may decide to now resort to foreign coaches, who merely come with strong intent on exploiting the economic aspect of their contracts without the expected result.

Accredited players’ agent, Chris Eseka, while asking the NFF to thoroughly probe Taiwo’s allegation, merely confirmed it, saying: “It is a fact that coaches do collect money from players, though not all of them do it. It is not all the players that do pay.

“Taye Taiwo is saying the obvious; it is those fringe players that are involved. You don’t expect players like Mikel Obi or Ogenyi Onazi or Enyeama to pay.

“This is the main reason why we have been clamouring for foreign coaches because no foreign coach will do that kind of thing. But the question is: When will Nigeria stop depending on foreign coaches?

Eseka asked the NFF not to sweep the allegation under the carpet. Rather, he asked the federation to investigate the allegation, albeit secretly.

Also, National President of the Nigerian Football coaches Association, Bitrus Bewarang, has challenged anyone with concrete information on any Nigerian national team coach collecting bribes to make such facts available.

Bewarang said if this was not investigated, then the football house may be culpable, urging that Taiwo should be called to substantiate his claim.

“He should be called to throw more light on the allegation because it is a big one. NFF should not sweep this allegation under the carpet because NFF’s name is at stake.”

“These accusations are becoming many, and if nothing is done now, it would soon get out of hand.

We are now challenging those making the accusations to come forward with their facts. They should make them available, and let us work on it. If not, such persons should keep their cool and should stop all the blackmail.

“Does it mean that Taiwo has been bribing his way to national teams all this while?”  Bewarang wondered. “If that is the case, he should be able to make available more facts on all these.”

He continued: “And why is it now that he is not being invited that he is making such claims? This is a player who grew from the wings, and passed through many coaches, coming out to make such a statement. We are not taking it lightly; he should come up and substantiate his claims.”

Former Eagles captain, Henry Nwosu (M)N) called on the authorities to immediately unravel the truth. He said such allegation is capable of tarnishing the nation’s image abroad.

“We should do everything possible to unravel the truth. It is a very bad one. Truthfully, we have been suspecting that, but I can’t confirm such because such thing was unheard of during our time.

“We were not playing for money, but for the fun of the game, hence we were not so desperate. This allegation is not good for our football.”

Onigbinde agreed that it may not be impossible, asking the NFF to investigate the matter because “It is a serious one.”

But Enyimba coach, Kadiri Ikhana, was coy in his response on the matter when his opinion was sought, saying since his coaching career, he has never collected money from any player before being featured.

“I have never asked for money from any player I feature in any team I am privileged to handle, so this issue of money is foreign to me. I think Taye Taiwo should be called to substantiate the allegation.

“But generally, this is not good for the image of Nigerian football and Nigerian coaches. Something must be done to know the truth in this matter. NFF should call Taiwo and probe from him those coaches who collect bribe. But Taiwo should be truthful about it.

The NFF must absolve itself of any blame by ensuring that nothing is left unearthed in this matter.