By Patrick Omorodion
The Nigeria Football Association (Yes, that is their real name until the National Assembly fully abrogates Decree 101 which set up the association) during the week unveiled Lars Lagerback, Swedenâ€™s former coach after so much intrigues.
Like other processes before it, the appointment of Lagerback has again been smeared with a controversy tinged with some financial abracad
When Dutch coach Johannes Bonfrere was hired as a full-time coach after his stint as Clemens Westerhofâ€™s assistant, the then NFA told the whole world he was given a sign-on fee of $300,000. That was strange because only players in other climes get sign-on fee. Even Jomo Sono of South Africa was taken aback at the disclosure, stressing that in his country, there was nothing of such.
His disclosure, which was the result of an encounter between this reporter and the former Bafana Bafana coach and proprietor of Jomo Cosmos FC in Switzerland in 2000 and reported widely by Vanguard newspapers, kind of ended the fraud of sign-on fee for foreign coaches perpetrated by the NFA since then.
Another controversy came in the wake of the engagement of German coach, Berti Vogts whose contract was shrouded in secrecy. We were not told he was given any sign-on fee but Nigerians were shocked to hear that the Sani Lulu Abdullahi-led NFA Board gave the German the luxury of coaching the Eagles from his home in Germany.
Vogtsâ€™ contract, which was later leaked to the public, gave him the freedom to stay in Nigeria for only 10 days in a month, that is anytime the Eagles had a match to play, otherwise he was at liberty to stay the whole month in his country with his salary running.
His contract had one other very absurd inclusion, that is, having his Nigerian link or agent, whose name will not be mentioned here, seat beside him on the bench anytime the Eagles were playing a match. It was the first time it was being done. This enabled the agent , who was also a playersâ€™ agent, decide for Vogts who gets invited or fielded for a particular match.
This may have contributed more to the downfall of Vogts, who beat a retreat after he led Eagles to their worst outing in recent times at the 2008 Africa Nations Cup in Ghana and Nigerians were thus saved waste of their scarce resources.
And now with Lagerback, there are talks that the $1.5 million salary allegedly approved for the Swede for his short stay here, five months to be precise, is an inflated figure. A reliable source close to the football house told Saturday Vanguard sports that Lagerback actually asked to be paid about $700,000 while the assistants he wants to come along with should get $200,000 for the period.
Even though Lagerback has signed the contract with the NFA, Nigerians like before, do not know the details or the real salary the Swede would be paid. Like Bonfrere before him, Lagerback may not grumble now until the romance between him and his employers goes sour. Then and only then will the public get to know whether the country has once again be short-changed.
One man is however crying foul, insinuating that the story on Lagerbackâ€™s bloated salary may be true after all. He is John Ola Shittu, a FIFA licensed agent and also the agent of former England manager, Glen Hoddle, who was equally interviewed for the Eagles job.
While speaking with brilafm.net, Shittu expressed displeasure over the manner of Lagerbackâ€™s appointment but declined to spill the beans. He however said that he would wait until all avenues to express his grievances have been fully exploited.
â€œI understand there were hurdles, there were issues that need to be addressed. There were a number of irregularities, but I donâ€™t want to state them through the media or in the press. Those matters need to be directed through an appropriate authority. They need to be stated at the right time through the right authority,â€ he insisted.
When Shittuâ€™s threat was put across to Ademola Olajire, NFAâ€™s Media Officer, he blurted out through an sms thus: â€œLet him go public with his documents. Who is Hoddle compared to Lagerback? If his candidate lost out, he should graciously accept defeat.â€