The Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Obinna Ogba, PDP, Ebonyi South, during an interview with journalists in Abuja on Thursday, 25th August on the donation of $390,000 to the Olympic Football team by a Japanese plastic surgeon and football enthusiast, Dr. katsuya Takasu, said it was ‘wrong’ of the team to receive the money because its source was unknown (Vanguard)
In his words, “I don’t think it was nice for our country to accept such money given the happenings around the world now. Money is good but it’s not every money that comes your way that you collect. So, I associate myself fully with the President of the Nigeria Football Federation,” he noted.
According to a report by PremiumTimes, Amaju Pinnick, the NFF president, said since Nigeria is a sovereign nation, it would be out of place to allow an individual make donations directly to individual team members.
Katsuya flanked by Obi and Siasia
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Obinna Ogba, PDP, Ebonyi South, during an interview with journalists in Abuja on Thursday, 25th August on the donation of $390,000 to the Olympic Football team by a Japanese plastic surgeon and football enthusiast, Dr. katsuya Takasu, said it was ‘wrong’ of the team to receive the money because its source was unknown (Vanguard Ng).
Pinnick asserted that, “Nigeria is a sovereign nation and such a donation must go through a process. If we get a go-ahead, it will go directly to the team,”
Mr. Pinnick said. “To say NFF has ‘hijacked’ the money is outright mischief. The checks must be concluded and we are given a go-ahead to collect by the government.”
A letter from Nigeria’s Charge d’Affaires in Tokoya to the sports authorities stated the beneficiaries of Mr. Takasu’s donation as Mr. Siasia and Mr. Obi, but the NFF or any of its officials was not included.
Mr. Takasu said he made the donation to the players after hearing about their financial crisis.
“I read about the financial problems affecting the team and I felt the need to make a big contribution,” Mr. Takasu told the BBC earlier this week.
Mr. Takasu said the team coach, Samson Siasia, and its captain, Mikel Obi, should each take $200,000 and $190,000, respectively.
But out of the blue on Saturday afternoon, reports emerged that some NFF officials had ‘hijacked’ the process and demanded that Mr. Takasu must hand the money to them for onward disbursement to team members.
Idah Peterside, a sports analyst and former goalkeeper for the Super Eagles, was amongst the first persons to raise the alarm on social media.
“More trouble in the dream team camp….the money from the Japanese man to the dream team has been hijacked by the NFA (he meant NFF),” Mr. Petersaid said.
“They want to use the money to pay the coaches as salaries. Bitrus Bewarang was sent to get the money from the Japanese, but the players say it’s their money.”
Mr. Peterside’s alarm elicited immediate response from Nigerians who said the NFF had no business fiddling with the donation because its conditions were clear, and many condemned those responsible for the controversy as greedy and shameless.
“There’s greed. Then, there’s corruption. And there’s that condition of having no capacity for shame whatsoever,” tweeted Gbenga Sesan, a capacity development expert.
But the NFF denied the allegations, saying it took over the process because it wanted the funds to be routed through appropriate channels.
It could be recalled that Nigeria won only a bronze in the Rio Olympic games outing. The bronze was got by the football team which met a lot of financial challenges that they arrived Brazil 7 hours before its first match.
Quartz Africa reported that After the Nigerian team was left stranded in Atlanta, USA, ahead of the Games because their flights had not been paid for, their plight made headlines. Eventually, the team landed in Rio just seven hours ahead of their first game, against Japan. But despite the less than ideal circumstances, the team served up an impressive performance to beat the Japanese team, and eventually finished top of their group. But the money troubles didn’t end there. Hours before the quarterfinal match against Denmark, Nigeria’s players threatened to boycott the game in protest over unpaid allowances. After reading the team’s financial struggles, Takasu said he “felt the need to make a big contribution.”
“I had traveled from Tokyo prepared to reward them anyway, and to watch them win the bronze inside the stadium was very fulfilling,” he told BBC.
Surprisingly, Nigeria has people who are among the richest in the world especially those in politics and religion. The country, arguably has the highest number of private jet owners in the continent, but has enormous poor attitude towards handling national financial and ethnic problems.
One may, therefore, wonder what is wrong donating money to this indefatigable team by a fan when most politicians and religious leaders in Nigeria are rich enough to sponsor this team, singlehandedly but lack the will to do so.
The most worrisome part of the saga is that NFF officials and the sports ministry are questioning the source of the benefactor’s money.
Naij.com quoted the former team’s coach, Samson Siasia as saying the money was shared equally. He disclosed that the Japanese surgeon was only curious on how the Dream Team was neglected and abandoned in Atlanta and still went on to defeat Japan despite arriving Rio five hours to the game.
“I want to ask these people who are saying they want to do all manner of checks to say what they have done for us during and after our campaign at the Olympics.
“Do you know that since we returned from Brazil, nobody from the NFF or ministry has called us to say we did well.
“The Japanese benefactor said $200,000 and $190,000 was supposed to be for bronze medal and it was split among the players and officials equally and I want to make it clear that it is not my personal money.
“What I got was what every other player and official in the team got and it is about $14,000 each because the money was not meant for me or Mikel alone but the entire team including the doctors and other back room staffs,”
Despite the troubles faced by the team, Siasia’s boys did the nation proud by winning bronze medal – Nigeria’s only medal at the games.
The Dream Team defeated Honduras 3 – 2 in a third place match played at the Maracana stadium.