Thecable– Daniel Amokachi, former Super Eagles skipper, says the practice of local coaches being bribed to invite players into the country’s national teams is endemic.
In spite of no one being found guilty of the accusation, there have long been suspicions that it happens in Nigeria.
“Agents always come to give money for their players to be invited to camp. Does it have to be so?” he asked.
In a swift reaction however, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) asked Amokachi to produce evidence to support his claims.
The 43-year-old, who won the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) as a player in 1994, says it is time people spoke up about the issue.
He said the issue had long bedevilled the Nigerian game.
“We know this thing has been going on for a while but we have to voice it,” the current manager of Finnish second tier side, JS Hercules, said.
Previously, Amokachi worked as an assistant to three former Super Eagles coaches, namely late Stephen Keshi (2011 to 2015), late Shaibu Amodu (2008 to 2010) and Austin Eguavoen (2005 to 2007).
He said all three used to complain about the practice.
“Every time Amodu would tell me: `Can you imagine these useless agents who are calling me? They want to give me US$10,000, $20,000 and $30,000 to bring their players in.’
“But he’s a man of integrity and wouldn’t take it. I worked with Keshi and it was the same scenario. With Eguavoen, it was the same.
“If these three names mentioned had not had integrity, definitely they would have fallen victim.”
But Mohammed Sanusi, NFF general secretary, rejected Amokachi’s allegations, while also calling on him to furnish the organisation with more information.
“I think it is unfair to make such allegations and not mention the names of those involved,’’ Sanusi said.
“It will be fair if he mentions the names of those who have either approached him or approached some people to give them money. He should also mention people who he knew collected money.
“I think that will be the best way to go about it.
“I have not heard of this issue from any quarter and I can tell you that the NFF will not tolerate this kind of behaviour.
“If Amokachi has evidence of what he has said, he should bring it forward and we will take it up.”
The former international, who enjoyed a fruitful career in Europe, says he has been inspired to speak out after being accused of the practice himself.
He played with Anderlecht (Belgium), Everton (England) and Besiktas (Turkey).
The accusation against him started after Nigeria, African champions in 2013, failed to qualify for next month’s Nations Cup in Gabon.
“Someone accused me lately, (saying) ‘the reason Nigeria did not qualify is because all you coaches demand bribes’,” he said.
“You understand? I felt the pain.
“So, if he is painting me as a bad egg among a few, then somebody like me cannot be quiet about it.
“Coaches will confirm (that) people bring money, but they will not say it.
“Players will confess. Even assistant coaches will confirm this thing is going on. But the system does not allow you because a lot of us are hungry and afraid that `when I say this, I will never be near that office again.”
In October, Amokachi asked the national anti-graft agency to investigate high-level corruption blighting football in Nigeria, but he was yet to hear back.
As a player, the former striker played at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups and won Olympic gold with his home nation in 1996.