2014 World Cup bribery claims: For integrity or prestige

2014 World Cup bribery claims: For integrity or prestige

Anything negative can just be said about Nigerian football by any individual. You will have to either believe it or not, and your decisions might either be swayed by the characters at the centre of the storm.  How respectful are the personalities making the accusations?

It was former Schalke 04 of German star, Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi who first opened the can of worm about the 2014 World Cup, saying: I was asked for bribe to make 2014 World Cup squad.

Obasi missed out on what would have been his second senior World Cup final, and in a recent chat on Instagram Live, Obasi disclosed that his failure to part with money resulted in his omission from the final squad for the trip to Brazil.

‘Two days before the list came out, I was asked to pay some money if I want to be in the team. I felt like I’ve paid my dues for the country, I shouldn’t do this. If I was a young player, maybe I would have done that, but it was a bit personal for me and I felt very heartbroken. I was playing for Schalke, I was playing in the Champions League and I was doing well.

‘I was supposed to move from Hoffenheim to England and I got injured playing for Nigeria at the World Cup [in South Africa]. After that competition, nobody called me to know how I am doing. I spent a lot of money to get fit. All people talked about was the injury. They don’t care to know what I went through on a daily basis making sure I get my body in shape, to stay healthy.

‘It takes a lot of dedication, money, investing in myself and my body. I went through surgery, did everything I can. Now a competition is coming up, you’re inviting me to the national team. I’ve exhausted my own money and you want me to pay, which is a slap in the face for me.

‘I said I’m not comfortable doing that. They said I should know the system, and I should act like I’m a Nigerian. I said it’s not about being a Nigerian but doing the right thing.’

Why is Obasi making this revelation six years after the championship in Brazil? Is it for integrity or prestige? And why are those that are also defending the coach in charge of the team then, late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi without doing their findings? Is it for integrity, or for prestige?

Did Obasi made the revelation because of integrity, or for prestige? First, the man at the centre of the storm, whom could have been called upon to clear his name is no more. This is the more reason why some of those condemning Obasi believe that the accusation was coming at the wrong time. What does he want to achieve with the revelation? What positives can we really draw from that, except that he was trying to explain why he was not at the 2014 World Cup finals? And was that really the reason why he was not at the Mundial?

As Obasi’s ‘revelation’ is still being debated, it has been alleged that one of the players that ‘surprisingly’ made the list, Michael Uchebo offered $10, 000 bribe to be included in the team.

In a revelation on the Obasi confession about the bribe, BBC journalist Juliet Mafua revealed that an unnamed Nigeria striker was denied a spot in the squad for refusing to pay $10,000.

In a series of tweets, Mafua alleged that Uchebo took the place of the unnamed player after someone paid the $10,000 on his (Uchebo) behalf.

Can this be faulted?

The storm was yet to settle, before another accusation flew into our consciousness.

Former Eagles defender, Taye Taiwo suggested that he quit the senior national team because of the antics and policies of Stephen Okechukwu Keshi. No matter the reservation he has against late Keshi, why is he coming up with that now? And if Obasi has not said anything about 2014 World Cup, will he still have kept quiet?

Super Eagles legend Sylvanus Okpala immediatelly reacted to the claim that late Keshi is dirty, according to Taye Taiwo.

‘During our AFCON qualifier against Rwanda, Taiye didn’t play well in that game. Keshi complained after the match but the players went back to their rooms and started plotting how to remove Keshi. They never knew that Keshi’s room was the next to Taye’s room.

‘Taye was telling other players that Keshi was shouting on him on the pitch and that he will do to Keshi what he did to other coaches and ensure that Keshi was sacked.

He claimed that Keshi was in his room listening to all their conversations.

If Okpala was right, then, what did Taiwo do to other coaches that he had wanted to do for Keshi the, and can such an action lead to Keshi been sacked?

Conflicting claims and counter claims you might want to say.

Ike Shorunmu has berated Obasi and Taiwo for their recent bribery claims. Shorunmu was then the Super Eagles Goalkeeper Coach.

‘From 2014 to now, that’s six years; does it mean that Obasi is not in this world?

‘Before Keshi passed on why can’t he come out to say something about this? Why now six years after, I don’t understand. It doesn’t make sense.

Does it really made any sense?

Daniel Amokachi was the late Keshi’s Assistant. He said that Obasi ought to have come forward with his accusation when the coach was alive.

‘Why come forward with such now when the man in charge is no longer alive to answer it?

‘Even look at it, this happened in 2014 and six years after you are coming forward with such claims? Why wait till now?

‘It doesn’t make sense to bring such an issue when the head is no longer alive to respond to you.

‘I am not saying such things don’t happen. Up till tomorrow, this thing does happen in African football but for us to have a change, when such happens, come forward with such. Be the sacrifice so as to prevent others going through the experience’.

Joseph Yobo was the Captain of the team then, and he believed that nothing of such happened. And even if it happened, would he be carried along, considering the gravity of the issue?

‘As the Captain of the team (at that time), I was privy to the goings on, most especially when we started the final camping leading to the tournament in Brazil.

‘To the best of my knowledge, I can’t figure out any unethical doings but we need to also respect the personalities of the individuals who raised the allegation.

The Nigeria Football Coaches Association (NFCA), frowned at the bribery allegations leveled against late Keshi, and in a statement by its President, Ladan Bosso said it is not enough to accuse coaches of bribery but such accusation must come with evidence and the accuser naming those involved in the allegations.

The Association threatened to take legal action if such malicious allegation continues.

Okpala, in his statement, added that ‘One of the problems we had then in the National team was that some NFF officials had too much contact with the players. They called them on the phone and became too familiar with the players. You don’t do that with players.’

Can we say this is part of the root cause?

Okpala went ahead to say what I think will raise more dusts. ‘Is it because we are Nigerians?’

Was it? Was Keshi the only one that has been so accused? And I am sure, he will absolutely not be the last. Time will tell.

Whichever way, we must respect the personalities of the individuals who raised the allegation. And the mere fact that they are around to shed more light on these accusations is another vital issue. Everything is about the integrity of everybody in and around sports and especially football in Nigeria. It’s late Keshi’s name that was mentioned today. More names would still be mentioned tomorrow. This I am sure of.

It’s all about integrity. It’s also about prestige. And that’s why the Nigeria Football Association (NFF) should take up the issue before it gets out of hand.

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