Nigeria: Eagles Coach, Yusuf, Filmed Receiving Cash in Sting Operation

25 July 2018

Super Eagles Chief Coach, Salisu Yusuf, has been caught on camera receiving cash from men posing as football agents.

The sting operation was conducted by controversial Ghanaian journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas in September 2017 - and is being broadcast for the first time by BBC Africa Eye.

Yusuf who led the Home-based Eagles to the silver medal finish at the 2018 African Nations Championship last January was first assistant coach to Gernot Rohr during the 2018 World Cup in Russia, is due to lead the national team to the Olympics in 2020.

In that secretly filmed video, Yusuf was showed receiving money which the sting operators said was to ensure two players are named in the squad for the 2018 African Nations Championship held in Morocco where Nigeria finished as runners up.

The video showed Yusuf, who is paid N3 million monthly by the Nigeria Football Federation, taking $1,000 from the undercover reporters, who eluded to other financial incentives after the coach had taken the money.

"So if anything goes through and these players are able to get their contracts, you will get 15% of that contract," one of the undercover reporters told Yusuf and he replied; "they will be in CHAN".

According to the FIFA code of ethics, officials should not engage in any activity that gives rise to suspicion or collect any cash gifts.

The two players were eventually selected for the African Nations Championship but no further money was requested or given to Yusuf and there's no further suggestion that the money he took influenced the selection of the players.

In the video, Yusuf said : "You know in football it is supposed to be by your consistency and form".

But in a swift reaction to the video yesterday, Yusuf denied any wrongdoing and said he neither promised nor committed to selecting players for games, adding that he never asked the undercover journalists for money but it was offered to him and the amount was $750, not the $1,000 Anas claims.

Yusuf also stated that he believes the money falls within the gifts the FIFA codes allow for, viewing it as of trivial and symbolic value and not as an inducement to select the two players represented by the two agents.

Meanwhile, the disciplinary committee of the Nigeria Football Federation ( NFF) have given their recommendations on the fate of the coach Yusuf.

The NFF Disciplinary Committee has however asked the board to sack him.

A check at the secretariat of the football house in Abuja revealed that Yusuf will be relieved off his role as coach of the Super Eagles and U23s, but it won't be immediate as he would be given the chance to defend himself by the board of the NFF.

President Amaju Pinnick and his vice Shehu Dikko were highly disappointed and bitter over the conduct of the Kano born coach, and that has led to suggestions that he won't survive the axe from the board.

Here is the full defence of Salisu Yusuf forwarded to the BBC:

I hereby acknowledge your "PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL" letter of no date, giving me up to 12th July 2018 to respond to the following allegation:

"... as head coach of the Nigerian national team, you accepted $1000 in cash from men who claimed to be football agents representing two Nigerian nationals. One individual said he hoped these two nationals would play in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) before the money was handed over. You accepted the money at the Best Western Plus Atlantic Hotel, Ghana, in September 2017."

I confirm meeting with two persons in September 2017 at the said Best Western Plus Atlantic Hotel, Ghana where I had lodged, who introduced themselves as football agents to two players whose names I cannot now remember. These individuals spoke to me, among other football related matters, on the possibility of their principals playing in the African Nations Championship in Nigerian colours. I can remember giving them my honest answer to the end that if the said players were found suitable in the selection process, they would indeed be selected. My response was neither a promise nor a commitment, knowing that I was not the sole person saddled with selecting players for any particular game.

There is nothing in the text of your allegation quoted above, indicating that the footage availed you by Anas Aremeyaw Anas and Tiger Eye, points to a demand for the money from the agents of the two principals. Rather, the agent only handed the money to me after expressing "hope" that the principals would play in the Championship.

Be that as it may, I did accept cash handed to me by one of the said football agents, which I later discovered, upon checking, to be $750 and not $1000. Nonetheless, my understanding of the FIFA and NFF Codes of Ethics, particularly Sections 20 of the said codes, is that, gifts of any kind could be accepted by persons bound by the Codes which are: of symbolic or trivial value; exclude any influence for the execution or omission on an act that is related to one's official activities or fall within one's discretion; are not contrary to one's duties; do not create any undue pecuniary or other advantage; and do not create a conflict of interest.

My understanding of sub-section 2 of section 20 of the Codes, which you partly reproduced in your letter is that, cash gifts are prohibited only in all cases of doubt concerning the five allowances for gifts prescribed by sub-section 1 of section 20.

In any case, I did accept $750 handed to me by one of the two agents to the two Nigerian players only as a gift of trivial and symbolic value and not as an inducement to play the two players represented by the two agents, as Anas Aremeyaw Anas and Tiger Eye would want you to believe.

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