The President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, has offered insights into why the federation initially rejected the $390,000 cash gift by Japanese surgeon, Katsuya Takasu to the national U-23 team for winning the bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Brazil.
Takasu traveled to Belo Horizonte, where he gave two checks to the team in the names of Coach Samson Siasia and John Mikel Obi, after Nigeria defeated Honduras 3-2 to finish third at Rio2016.
NFF had blatantly refused to acknowledge the donation, though the Nigerian Embassy wrote the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, to allow Takasu present the donation to the team after background checks were done on the Japanese.
The largesse stirred controversy in the country with the Chairman, Senate Sports Committee, Obinna Ogba, among those who have questioned the proprietary of Siasia and Mikel decision to accept the donation on behalf of the team.
Speaking on why NFF refused to commend Takasu in writing for his magnanimity, Pinnick told reporters on Tuesday night that the federation declined because it was not put in the picture initially when the doctor offered to donate the money.
He said the donation was in breach of due process and the order of protocol originating from NFF and the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) was also by-passed. As a result of the gap, they could not formally brief the sports minister.
Pinnick insisted NFF position was anchored on protecting the integrity of Nigeria as taking money from questionable sources could expose Nigerian players to the match-fixing scheme of the notorious gambling ring in South East Asia.
“We rejected the donation because it did not follow due process. We should be careful about who we receive money from and our concern is about the integrity of our players and coaches, so that they are not induced with money to fix matches by the betting syndicate in Asia,” Pinnick said.
“It (the donation) did not pass through the proper channel. The minister would have communicated with government to see, for example, if Nigeria is in conflict with the man’s country of origin. A lot of processes were isolated,’’ Pinnick said.
He also highlighted the challenges faced by the federation in buying flight tickets for the players of this weekend’s Africa Cup of Nations match against Tanzania, arising from the unbearable effect of assessing money in the Treasury Savings Account (TSA).
According to him the federation had to a sign a guarantee before its travel agency agreed to issue flight tickets to enable the foreign-based players come for the match.