In recent times, Nigerian footballers have been enmeshed in match-fixing and other corruption charges either by the world football-governing body, FIFA or some national associations, a situation that has cast doubts on the integrity of players from the country.
A few years ago, former director general of the defunct National Sports Commission (NSC), Amos Adamu, was banned from all football related activities by FIFA for allegedly demanding gratification before the votes were cast for the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup competitions.
The incident was followed by the one-year ban of former national team coach, Salisu Yusuf, for accepting to receive £1,000 from undercover reporters to include two players in the team he was preparing for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN).
Former Super Eagles’ Coach, Samson Siasia is still struggling to extricate himself from allegations that he accepted to fix matches while negotiating for a job in Australia. Siasia, who was banned for life by FIFA, is still battling to prove his innocence at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).
At the weekend, the news broke of a five-year ban for Super Eagles’ 2010 World Cup star, Dickson Etuhu, who was alleged to have attempted to fix a Swedish league match.
These incidents, according to former Super Eagles’ defender, Ifeanyi Udeze, has tainted the image of Nigerian football such that players from the country would now be seen as potential match-fixers.
Udeze told The Guardian at the weekend that the negative effects of these incidents would rub off on other Nigerian players, who would now be major suspects wherever there are indiscretions.
Although he advised Etuhu to fight to clear his name if he was convinced of his innocence in the issue, Udeze added, however, that Nigerian players should be more careful with the people they associate with and things they do.
“It is quite unfortunate that Etuhu has been banned from football by the Swedish football Association. The nation has not recovered from Samson Siasia’s life ban for alleged match fixing and now another stain has been added to the dirt of our sleeves.
“Although Siasia is fighting to be cleared from the scandal, which we pray it turns out positive, my fear now is that these incidents have created room for tight scrutiny of Nigerian players by foreign football bodies.
“Nigerian coaches and football administrators should also be mindful of their associations because all eyes will now be on them.
“It is not good that after 20 years of a footballer’s career, he will be tagged a match fixer. Nigerian players have to fight hard to be good ambassadors of the country anywhere they are engaged in the business of football,” he said.