By Jacob Ajom,
Two former Nigeria coaches, Clemens Westerhof and Johannes Bonfrere are locked in a legal battle in far away Holland, over allegations of match-fixing during Nigeria’s USA ’94 World Cup campaign.
Coach Westerhof has sued Bonfrere for defamation of character and is praying that the Rechtbank Gelderland High Court in Arnhem, Netherlands should ask his former assistant, Bonfrere to clear his name after he(Bonfrere) was quoted as having accused him of selling the match between Nigeria and Italy for $100,000.
Sometime in April 2020, Bonfrere was widely quoted by the Nigerian media of having said in an interview with highly reputable Sport Radio, Brila fm that his former principal and colleague, Coach Clemens Westerhof sold the World Cup group match, which Nigeria lost 1-2, no thanks to a Roberto Baggio second half brace.
Bonfrere, said in the interview, “Yes everyone blames the coach. The coach did something wrong and we lost before the game started,” Bonfrere revealed.
He continued, “He sold the game for $100,000, that’s why we lost against Italy. If you don’t believe, you can ask the players.”
As expected, Westerhof, who is regarded as Nigeria’s best coach ever, foreign or local, rose in defence and vowed to clear his name, claiming that his former assistant, Bonfrere should be ready to prove his allegations in a court of law.
Westerhof said, “Bonfrere’s allegation is not true. It is a lie. He wants to bring my name in bad light. He knows that the people in Nigeria like me. What happened was that we lost to Roberto Baggio’s two goals, the last was a penalty kick. We lost by two goals to one. That was what happened.”
The case came up yesterday at the court and after cross examination, Bonfrere denied he ever said anything like that against Westerhof and claimed that he was being framed by the radio house to fan embers of hatred between him and his former boss.
Our source who attended the hearing yesterday said, Bonfrere, who was represented by M. Van Kallen, a legal practitioner from the Legal Solution Chambers, Arnhem is accusing Brila of creating a controversy against him as he told the judge he never said Westerhof sold the World Cup match to Italy.
“I just came back from the High Court and Bonfrere told the judge that Brila Radio was lying against him,” said Westerhof, saying his legal counsels as represented by Timon Boer of the Boer en van Wees Chambers had compelled the judge to demand for a copy of the tape. The case was adjourned and the next hearing comes up in two weeks.
Westerhof said the case has taken a new dimension which bothers on the reputation of Brila fm as a credible news organ.
Westerhof said he was not surprised at Bonfrere’s attempt to tarnish the reputation of Brila fm, which in his words, “is his stock in trade,” adding, “he is dishonest and untrustworthy, given my experience with him.”
In the quoted interview with Sports Vanguard earlier, Westerhof recalled how he felt betrayed by his former number two at the Pre-Nations Cup training camp in Papendal where he plotted with a certain NFF official to relocate the team.
“I then knew he was a green snake under green grass. I asked him to leave the camp immediately. I sacked him. I told them I did not want him again in the team. But some people begged for him and he returned to the team.”
It could also be recalled that the two had a frosty relationship at the World Cup in the USA as the number two man was also fingered as having influenced the players rebellion before the Italy match.