By Gowon Akpodonor:

THE Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has described as “cheap blackmail” the allegation that some officials of the interview panel demanded N100 million gratification from one of the foreign coaches interviewed recently for the Super Eagles technical adviser job.

Five foreign coaches were interviewed last week in Abuja by a panel constituted by both the NFF and the National Sports Commission (NSC) and at the end, former coach of Sweden, Lars Lagerback, was picked ahead of two former coaches of England, Glen Hoddle and Sven Goran Eriksson, and Bruno Metsu.

Since the emergence of Lagerback, there have been series of allegations of bribery, with some prominent members of the interview panel and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Super Eagles preparation for the 2010 World Cup being accused of demanding huge sums of money from a particular candidate.

But the Chairman of NFF Technical Committee, Taiwo Ogunjobi, told The Guardian yesterday that there was no iota of truth in the story. Ogunjobi said: “This is cheap blackmail. We challenge anyone who is making such allegation to come out with proof.

“I want make it clear to Nigerians that this is a ploy by our detractors to rubbish the good work that we have done, but we won’t allow them. If they like, let them say we collected N1 billion bribe from the foreign coach. This is not the first time we are hearing this type of story.

“Nigerians are no fools and I am sure those behind this allegation are just looking for a way to play on people’s intelligence. They have failed.”

According to the story, which was published by a national sports paper yesterday, Hoddle was reportedly told that he would be offered $1.5 million for the duration of the short contract, but would pay back $500,000 to the member of the interview panel, an offer he rejected.

Head of the PTF and Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, whose body is picking the bills for the newly appointed manager, was said to have set up a committee to investigate the bribery allegation.

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