The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Wednesday banned Super Eagles coach Salisu Yusuf from all football-related activities for 12 months and fined him $5,000 (4,300 euros) for receiving cash from undercover journalists posing as agents.
In a footage, shot by BBC’s Ghanaian reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas in September 2017, Yusuf was seen collecting a handful of money, reportedly, $1000 cash from journalists posing as football agents who then requested that Yusuf select two players for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN).
In a statement on Wednesday, the NFF Committee on Ethics and Fair Play said it found Yusuf guilty after considering the complaint by the NFF and the coach’s defence of a video documentary.
“He is hereby banned for the period of one year, from partaking or involvement or participation in any football-related activity, effective from the date of this decision,” the statement said.
“He is also fined in the sum of $5,000 to be paid within three months of the date of this decision.”
The NFF Committee led by Nuhu Ribadu submitted a report to the NFF Secretariat on Tuesday, days after inviting Salisu to state his own side of the matter.
The committee established that:
1) he accepted the cash gift of $1,000 offered by Tigers Player’s Agency, an undercover reporter, purportedly interested in acting on behalf of Players Osas Okoro and Rabiu Ali, for their inclusion in the list of players for 2018 CHAN Competition in Morocco.
2) it was not an error of judgment on the part of Coach Salisu Yusuf but a conscious and deliberate decision to have accepted the cash gift of $1,000 from the decoy player agent/undercover reporter, purportedly interested in acting on behalf of players Osas Okoro and Rabiu Ali, even though the evidence before the Committee did not establish that his conduct influenced the choice of the two players.
3) the two players could have made the team to 2018 CHAN Competition in Morocco on the basis of their talent and performance.
4) Coach Salisu Yusuf did not accept the offer of 15% of the anticipated transfer fees of the said players, as there was no follow-up action on the promise.
5) the act of the Coach, which was widely published on the British Broadcasting Corporation, has a damaging effect on the reputation and integrity of Nigerian Football, as he ought to have conducted himself more professionally in line with the Code of Conduct signed alongside his Contract with the Nigeria Football Federation, as his conduct in public and in secret should be exemplary, since coaches are role models.
6) the FIFA Code of Ethics, NFF Code of Ethics and FIFA Disciplinary Code, did not contemplate negligence or error of judgment as a defence to violation of any of the provisions as contained therein, as punitive measures must be adopted to serve as deterrent to other intending offenders, even though, that he is a first time offender.
Consequently, the committee’s finalised that “In accordance with Art. 22, FIFA Disciplinary Code, he is hereby banned for the period of one year, from partaking or involvement or participation in any football-related activity, effective from the date of this decision. He is also fined in the sum of $5,000 to be paid within three (3) months of the date of this decision…”
The NFF, in the statement by its spokesperson, Demola Olajire, said it had accepted the report and approved the committee’s recommendation.
Yusuf, who denied any wrongdoing, has the option to appeal.
The BBC, which aired the footage, said the report was part of a wider investigation into corruption in African football by the Ghanaian journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
His expose led to the resignation of the head of the Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantakyi after he was accused of soliciting bribes and kickbacks.
Yusuf said in response to the BBC in July that the sum was $750, not $1,000, and was a “gift of trivial and symbolic value”, that was acceptable within NFF and FIFA guidelines.
But the committee said Yusuf’s actions had “a damaging effect on the reputation and integrity of Nigerian football”.
It added that “he ought to have conducted himself more professionally… as his conduct in public and in secret should be exemplary since coaches are role models”.