Sports Minister Sunday Dare says a dedicated official will soon be appointed to investigate and address football-related complaints following explosive revelations by ex-Super Eagles winger Chinedu Obasi who alleged that he was asked for bribes to make the 2014 World Cup squad.
Obasi who was playing for German side Schalke 04 at the time said he was omitted from Stephen Keshi’s team to Brazil because he refused the overtures of the unnamed officials.
Twitter user Lolade Adewuyi drew the minister’s attention to Obasi’s statements to which Dare responded that plans are in place to establish the office of a football ombudsman to deal with complaints of that nature.
Thanks. The office of the football ombudsman will soon come on stream to deal with this. Thank you.
— Sunday Dare (@SundayDareSD) May 8, 2020
An ombudsman is a legal representative appointed by the government or large organisations and charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or a violation of rights.
A football ombudsman will have a more restricted mandate focused solely on football-related issues.
Obasi’s mind-blowing revelations bring to the fore issues of bribe-taking and sundry underhand dealings that have long been believed to be rife with national teams squad selections for international football competitions.
Famously, the now-reinstated assistant coach of the Super Eagles Salisu Yusuf was banned and fined after being exposed in a sting operation agreeing to call up players in return for pecuniary gains.
The 33-year-old Obasi who is currently a free agent after leaving Swedish side AIK also revealed in the Instagram Live interview with broadcast journalist Kelechi Bernard on Omasports TV that he was also asked to agree to cede agency control to the unnamed officials over any transfer move that might materialise from him being at the World Cup.
No Payment, No World Cup- The Story Of Chinedu Obasi.
— Oma Akatugba (@omaakatugba) May 8, 2020
The former Enugu Rangers star said he was affronted by the propositions having been ignored when he picked up an injury while on national team duties at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Having represented Nigeria at all levels and winning silver medals at the U20 World Cup and the Olympics and a bronze medal at the AFCON, Obasi said he felt he had “paid my dues to the country” and that being asked for bribes to return to the national fold “felt like a slap in the face.”
“I was supposed to be at the World Cup in 2014, I was playing with Schalke in the Champions League everything was going fine. At the end of the season, I was given an invitation for the World Cup preparations for friendlies in South Africa,” Obasi said.
“So, two days before the list came out, I was asked to pay some money if I want to be in the team.
“I felt like I’ve paid my dues for the country, if you’re a new player, I can get that but for me, it was a bit personal and very heartbreaking because I got injured – I was supposed to move from Hoffenheim to England – I got injured at the 2010 World Cup playing for Nigeria after that competition nobody called me to know how I was doing.
“I spent so much money to make sure that I got myself fit because all people talk about “oh he’s injured, oh he’s injured” nobody knows what I go through on a daily basis making sure that I get my body fit and in shape and I stay healthy and I keep coming back.
“And it takes a lot of dedication, it takes a lot of money and it takes a lot of investment in myself and my body. I went through surgery and did everything I can.
“Now the next competition comes up, you’re inviting me to the national team, I’ve exhausted my own money and now you want me to pay to represent the country which was a slap in the face for me.
“So I said, I don’t feel comfortable doing that. What they told me was that ‘oh, why are you acting like you’re not a Nigerian’. I said it was not about being a Nigerian, it’s about doing the right thing.
“I’ve never really talked about this since 2014, I just kept everything because, at the end of the day, you just create unnecessary enemies. because people will feel you’re attacking them one way or the other but at the end of the say that was actually the truth.
“People went to the World Cup, that played in the lower leagues. I’m not taking jibes at anybody but I feel like if you have to represent the country, you have to take the best.
“And at the time, I feel like at that time in 2014 if you name two, three players that play in a top club in topflight football, Schalke 04 was among the teams that is a top club in Europe at the time.
“Funny enough after the conversation not even that they told me that, it got a bit more personal because they told me that even if I end up going and get a team, their own agent will have to negotiate that deal. So I was like it doesn’t sound right to me.”
Chinedu Obasi scored four goals in 24 caps for the Super Eagles the last of which was an AFCON qualifier against Guinea in 2011.