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PINNICK: NFF Will Welcome Salisu Yusuf Back With Open Arms

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Bribe-taking Super Eagles chief coach Salisu Yusuf still has a “subsisting contract” and will “one hundred per cent” be reinstated to his position with the national teams after completing his “restorative” yearlong ban from footballing activities according to the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Amaju Pinnick.

Pinnick made this known while giving a wide-ranging interview to popular sports programme Sports Zone on the Lagos based radio station Lagos Talks on Wednesday.

The NFF president had been asked to confirm if reports attributed to him that Yusuf – banned by the federation’s ethics committee for accepting bribes from an undercover investigative journalist who posed as a players’ agent – would be allowed back to the federation when his suspension expires, to which he replied: “one hundred per cent” going on to add that he doesn’t “believe in living in a paradise of fools”.

“There is nothing wrong with [reinstating Yusuf],” Pinnick maintained. “You see, when you give somebody a punishment, the punishment is meant to reprimand, it’s restorative it is not destructive.” Yusuf’s “five-year contract with the NFF” according to Pinnick, “did not say that if you get sanctioned for two, three days, one month two months three months even four years that you cannot resume”.

“There are many things people will not understand” he explained. “We have invested in this coach, this coach has gone for training, this coach has gone everywhere and at the end of the day are you just going to throw him away? So, I don’t believe in living in a paradise of fools, I believe in realistic mode of doing things.”

Yusuf’s one year ban from all footballing activities was viewed in some quarters as a slap on the wrist especially considering the treatment meted out to ex Ghana Football Association president Kwesi Nyantaki who was stripped of his position and subsequently banned for life from all national and international footballing activities after he was found guilty of accepting bribes.

But Pinnick said a one year ban for Yusuf “was good enough” because the ethics committee headed by “one of the most respected Nigerians” Nuhu Ribadu found that Yusuf “did not go intentionally to collect money”. The NFF boss even threw in a few scriptural references for good measure.

“Looking at the Bible,” Pinnick intoned, “Jesus Christ said ‘If you know you have not sinned cast the first stone’.”  He then attempted to justify his stance on Salisu by citing former England manager Sam Allardyce as an example of someone who “had been sanctioned, came back and held their position”. When it was pointed out to him by one of the programme’s hosts that Allardyce was fired from his job, Pinnick replied: “That’s in England”.

Pinnick recently became just the second president in the history of the NFF to be re-elected to the position and on the 24th of October, the General Assembly of the NFF endorsed the decision of the Executive Committee of the NFF to set up a Reform Committee that would make a number of recommendations to the NFF including, “the most efficient and generally acceptable way to ensure a commitment to the principles of good governance, inclusion and transparency in all areas of its operations which also requires its member associations, officials and employees to meet the high standards set in this regard.”

Pinnick however, appears to suggest that the peculiarities of the African environment offer context and are a sufficient mitigating factor for Yusuf failure to adhere to the high standards expected of an employee of the NFF.

“Listen let me tell you the truth,” Pinnick said to listeners of the show, “what happened to Salisu would have happened to anybody, we are Africans. I’m not trying to justify what he did, what he did was wrong, there’s a punishment and he has a subsisting contract.

“Every day we sin and we ask God for forgiveness and if God can forgive you, who are we men that cannot forgive?”

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