A few days ago, a stunning news emerged on social media that the Chief Coach of Nigeria’s National U-20 Men’s team, the Flying Eagles, Ladan Bosso, had turned down a whopping €100,000 from a football agent who wanted his player to be included in the team that he is preparing for the 2023 AFCON Championship in Egypt. Another version of the same report had it that other Europe based agents too had him with bribe for them to have sole ownership of his players who might be scouted by foreign clubs at the championship that will be starting in February.
The report did state clearly that Bosso said he refused to be seduced or induced with such huge amount of money. According to the online medium InsideNews247.com, Bosso said he wants to take full responsibility for the success or failure of the team. As such, he is not ready to compromise his team selection for any gratification.
As the report went viral on social media, some of us who saw the danger inherent in it expected an instant rejoinder from the coach disassociating himself with the medium, it’s reporter and the report itself. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen until a few days ago when the football governing body, the NFF released an official statement in which Bosso distanced himself from the controversial interview.
The coach who is never shy of controversies was quoted by the NFF as saying “ Please, permit me to clear the air on the news making the rounds about me rejecting an amount of money from a football agent. I never made such a claim to any journalist, talk less of in a formal interview. There was no time I made such a statement to either a journalist or any other person for that matter. If any one has proof of my making such a statement, the person should come out and tender it in public.
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“At the moment, I am focused on ensuring the Flying Eagles prepare very well and we are able to pick the very best legs to represent Nigeria at the Africa U-20 Cup of Nations in Egypt. We surely can do without such distractions.”
The response from the coach through his employers came as a relief to those who felt disturbed that despite FIFA’s hard stance on issues of bribery and corruption, the national team coach was still romancing people who will be quick to offer him bribe to influence his team selection.
However, even as the somehow belated statement appear to have doused the shock that greeted the bribery story, there is an important area that the rebuttal failed to cover. The statement from the NFF fell short of expectations because it didn’t end with an order for the writer to withdraw the story or be sued for defamation. This has left room for speculations that the interview was actually granted.
Therefore, to clear all doubts, either Coach Bosso or the NFF should insist on immediate withdrawal of the story and a public apology from the online medium that did the report that has tampered with the image of the coach and the football federation. Casually waving aside the serious issue is not good enough.
One is not insisting that Bosso granted the interview and also made such a damning revelation but it is possible that he got carried away while talking to one of his numerous friends in the media. Another thing is that some of us who have known the coach for a long time can attest to his courage. As a former military personnel, he is never afraid to wage ‘war’ with anyone when necessary.
He speaks his mind no matter whose ox is gored. Bosso in 2007 minced no words when he accused FIFA of racism at the U-20 World Championship in Canada. An ordinary man wouldn’t have dared FIFA in that manner. Although he burnt his fingers in the incident, after sometime, he bounced back and is still coaching the same national team.
Moreover, it will be absurd to say that Bosso is not under any pressure from football agents. It will be hard for me to be convinced that no football agent has made contact with the outspoken gaffer since he returned as coach of the Flying Eagles. Football agents like to flock around national team coaches to induce them in order to find spaces for their wards in the teams. Even the senior national team the Super Eagles is presently controlled by big agents with deep pockets. This explains why it now a common thing to find unknown average foreign-based players in the Super Eagles.
By this, I am of the opinion that my friend Bosso should be the man we all know him to be by naming and shaming anyone who may be disturbing him with bribe. There is no coach of any Nigerian national team who is not tempted with money for selection of players. These agents are recalcitrant. They don’t take no for an answer. Some of the agents are even within the NFF itself. They do this through proxies to avoid the prying eyes of the public.
So, the NFF shouldn’t be quick to accept Bosso’s denial of the online report. Agreed he said he didn’t accept any bribe but that shouldn’t be enough for the football federation to also conclude that he wasn’t offered money. Once bribe is offered, whether it was accepted or not, an offence was committed. Therefore, the NFF should investigate further to know, if truly something was neither given nor taken. Bosso may have decided save someone’s neck.
However, if it is eventually discovered that the report by the online medium was a mere fabrication of the imagination of the writer, the NFF shouldn’t hesitate to take appropriate legal actions that would deter others who might want to toe the same ignominious path in future.