Salisu Yusuf, once banned for bribery, gets Nigeria coaching job back

Three years after being engulfed in a bribery scandal, Nigeria have reinstated coach Salisu Yusuf to his position as assistant to national team coach Gernot Rohr, and as head coach of the national B team.

The reappointment, which was announced on Thursday in a statement by the NFF, means that Yusuf will be responsible for the country's team of domestic-based players, also known as the CHAN [African Nations Championship] team.

Yusuf, 59, was implicated in a bribery scandal in 2018 after being caught on video accepting bribes from an undercover reporter, but said it was a gift, and that he would not have selected the players based on the payment.

Yusuf said at the time: "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."

The coach was subsequently handed a $5000 fine and one year suspension by the Nigeria Football Federation.

Soon after serving his suspension, reports emerged that he was to be returned to his post as Super Eagles assistant coach, but the NFF were forced to backtrack following a stringent backlash.

In announcing the appointment, which takes effect from November 1, NFF General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi said that the re-instatement by the board was on the recommendation of the NFF Technical Department.

Christian Emeruwa, NFF's former National Integrity Officer, who is now Head of CAF's Safety and Security Department, was not pleased by the new development, saying Yusuf should have been banned for life.

Emeruwa told ESPN: "The offense committed by the coach is one of those offenses, as outlined in the NFF's Integrity Guidelines and FIFA Ethics Code, that should have led to a life ban.

"But in the wisdom of the NFF Disciplinary Committee, they decided to give him a suspension. And now they have decided to call him back.

"But on the basis of the FIFA Ethics Code, he should have been banned for life. The protocol is clear: resist, renounce and report.

"If you do not do any of those, you are culpable. Not to talk of someone that as caught on camera collecting money. And it was proved beyond reasonable doubt. I would say he is very lucky not just to get away without a life ban, but to be offered his job back again."

Yusuf is not the only Nigerian coach involved in bribery. Former head coach Samson Siasia was handed a lifetime ban by FIFA for agreeing to receive bribes from notorious matchfixer Wilson Raj Perumal.

Siasia's ban was later reduced on appeal to five years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Former left back Taye Taiwo, who played for Olympic Marseille and Queens Park Rangers, also accused coaches of asking for bribes for call ups, as did ex-junior international Emmanuel Sarki, who claimed he was asked to pay for a call up.

Despite all of these allegations, Emeruwa says these incidents remain isolated: "We cannot use these incidents to generalize. I would rather say we address them based on the fact before us.

"Yes, we are aware that these things happen, but they are always very difficult to prove. That is why there are all these rules in place. In any case, it is not just Nigeria. This fight is supposed to be a collective fight by all football stakeholders."

Nigeria play the final two games of their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers group stage against Liberia and Cape Verde in November and Yusuf will be expected to be on the staff.

Emeruwa says his presence could present problems with team optics: "If we have people that are connected to match manipulators handling our national teams, people that have the tendencies to be easily manipulated, then the question would be how far can we trust their judgment?

"These are issues that can be very damning to any association if it is not addressed seriously."