Chinedu Obasi the former Super Eagles forward, has revealed that his refusal to pay bribe denied him the opportunity of making the squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The former Schalke 04 player, who brought this revelation to light during an Instagram live chat with Kelechi Bernard on Friday, said he felt it was wrong to pay bribe to be included in the then late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi team.
“I was playing for Schalke, I was playing in the Champions League and I was doing well. Two days before the list came out, I was asked to pay some money if I want to be in the team,” Obasi said.
“I felt like I’ve paid my dues for the country, I shouldn’t do this. If I was a young player, maybe I would have done that, but it was a bit personal for me and I felt very heartbroken.
“Now a competition is coming up, you’re inviting me to the national team. I’ve exhausted my own money and you want me to pay, which is a slap in the face for me.
“I said I’m not comfortable doing that. They said I should know the system, and I should act like I’m a Nigerian. I said it’s not about being a Nigerian but doing the right thing.
“I’ve kept it close to my chest since 2014 because you’d have unnecessary enemies when you talk. People who played in lower leagues went to that World Cup. I’m not taking jab at anyone.
“If you’re good for the World Cup, then you should go, but I feel like if you have to take the best and at the time, I was playing for a top team, Schalke 04 which was among the top team in Europe at the time.
“Funny enough, after the conversation, it got a bit more personal. They told me that even if I end up going as part of the team, their own agent will negotiate that deal. I said it doesn’t sound good to me.”
The 33-year-old, who was part of the Samson Siasia’s squad that won silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, also bemoaned the injury that denied him the chance to move to England.
“I was supposed to move from Hoffeinheim to England and I got injured playing for Nigeria at the World Cup (2010 in South Africa),” he said.
“After that competition, nobody called me to know how I am doing. I spent a lot of money to get fit. All people talked about was the injury. They don’t care to know what I went through on a daily basis making sure I get my body in shape.
“It takes a lot of dedication, money, investing in myself and my body. I went through surgery, did everything I can.”
Reacting to Obasi’s claim, Daniel Amokachi, who was the late Keshi’s assistant, reveals that Obasi ought to have come forward with his accusation when the coach was alive.
“Why come forward with such now when the man in charge is no longer alive to answer it?,” Amokachi said.
“Even look at it, this happened in 2014 and six years after you are coming forward with such claims? Why wait till now?
“It doesn’t make sense to bring such an issue when the head is no longer alive to respond to you?.
“I am no saying such things don’t happen. Up till tomorrow, this thing do happen in African football but for us to have a change, when such happens, come forward with such. Be the sacrifice so as to prevent others going through the experience.
“It is not about one person, it’s a revolution, a change, that if we start, it will change a lot of things in our football.
“This issue of bribe taking or collecting in our football is not a one way thing. Agents of players will come and meet a coach to offer money for their players to be taken.
“It’s a two way thing. Sometimes, players are the ones that will even go to the coach to say my agent said he will pay for me to be part of the team.
“You will also see some administrators and coaches who have turned agents that will try to be influencing things from the side.”
HOUDONOU SAYS OBASI FAILED TO MAKE THE LIST
On his part, Valere Houdonou, also an assistant coach to the late Keshi, told TheCable that there was no striker he could replace at the time.
“The question is, who could he have replaced among the strikers then?,” Houdonou asked.
“He was invited like every other potential players that could make the World Cup then because the coaching crew wanted to take the best to Brazil then.
“He failed to make the list because he could not displace anyone in the team.”