Nigerian Football Association Gives the Green Light to Bribery
April 3, 2006 7:42 PM   Subscribe

Let me make you an offer you can refuse... The Nigerian Football Association has adopted the "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" policy regarding bribery of officials. They now say that officials can accept bribes, so long as said bribes don't affect the game's outcome. Brilliant. Why didn't anyone think of this before?
posted by TheFarSeid (21 comments total)
Dearest friend,

Allow me to introduce myself, I'm the son of a former Nigerian Football Association official. My dearest father was killed during a rather terrible game in which he made a somewhat unpopular decision (but, I must point out, it did NOT affect the game's outcome).

But the bribe was for 23 million US $'s and I must now find a way to move this out of the country before it is taken by the government......

/someone had to do it!
posted by HuronBob at 8:03 PM on April 3, 2006

"Referees should only pretend to fall for the bait, but make sure the result doesn't favour those offering the bribe," Amun said.

Why is this something we dont hear in the developed world? This statement embodies a weird logic, a mix of deception and naivete. It speaks to a lack of distinction between public and private--what you'd say to yourself as opposed to admitting to a reporter.
posted by mert at 8:18 PM on April 3, 2006

Steroid Olympics anyone?
posted by strawberryviagra at 8:20 PM on April 3, 2006

mert... the "developed" world? hmmmm.. might better be referred to as the "undeveloping world" ....

the distinction between what used to be referred to as "third world countries" and "us" (or, if you prefer "U.S.") is quickly narrowing....

at least there is some honesty there... which puts Nigerian Football officials one step above US politicians...
posted by HuronBob at 8:22 PM on April 3, 2006

1. Accept all bribes.
2. Do nothing.
3. Profit!!!!

I gotta get my referee credentials and start pulling in the big money.
posted by fenriq at 9:18 PM on April 3, 2006

...a weird logic, a mix of deception and naivete. It speaks to a lack of distinction between public and private.

I don't know if this article was a day early April Fools. However, having lived and worked in Africa, I will permit myself to say that it does not necessarily seem to be far-fetched.

I was part of a judo club while living in the Comoros. At the annual meeting, when the subject of what we were going to do with the collective annual dues all the members had paid, the treasurer of the club unabashedly announced that his daughter in France had been having car problems and other financial difficulties and that he had sent her all of the club's money. The treasurer was African while the majority of the club was European. Needless to say, the Euros were mysitfied that the treasurer was not the least bit ashamed or embarrased. In fact, he was defiant when club members expressed disapproval. His apparent reasoning: "you entrusted me with the money, it was my right to do with it as I decided."

It was the quite frequent moments like that where I, as a Westerner, stood back and wondered what world I was in.

What makes for such differences? Education? Culture? I'm not certain. Surely though, a result of completely different expectations different peoples have in this life.
posted by pwedza at 9:32 PM on April 3, 2006

I thought this had been going on in the baseball world for years; players agreed to keep taking steroids, as long as they wouldn’t let it affect their testimony during congressional hearings.
posted by freetshirt at 10:08 PM on April 3, 2006

pwedza: I'm starting up a web page about cultural misunderstandings - I want it to become a large collection of quotes and stories. Can I use your story there? (Either anonymously or with attribution).
posted by martinrebas at 10:36 PM on April 3, 2006

I've also lived, travelled and worked in Africa and this story is all too believable. Nigeria's thoroughly deserved reputation is so bad that other African nations are astonished at the level of their corruption. Just think about how bad that is...

There is something cultural about theft, dishonesty etc in Africa. I never really got an understanding of it, but I do know that Africans don't trust each other and nobody trusts a Nigerian.
posted by quarsan at 10:43 PM on April 3, 2006

pwedza, classic! And I believe it.

I lived in South Africa a long time ago and used to have pretty strange conversations with one of the cleaning guys who had "picked out" his new house once the elections took place, a multi-million dollar spread in an exclusive and all-white town. I don't think he got it.
posted by fenriq at 10:54 PM on April 3, 2006

They are following in a noble tradition - I think it was Cicero who said it didn't matter if you accepted a bribe so long as it didn't change your decision...
posted by greycap at 11:03 PM on April 3, 2006

I find it amusing that this post is sandwiched between the Tom Delay and Clifton Bennett posts.

The idea is intriguing, though. If you make bribery legal, will that make bribery less profitable, and thus less common? To me, it seems more likely that it will only lead to refs extorting teams.

Personally, I was rooting for Senegal and Ghana for the African Cup of Nations. Say what you will, but Africa has some great soccer, and I doubt this will affect how they do internationally.
posted by dsword at 11:29 PM on April 3, 2006

His apparent reasoning: "you entrusted me with the money, it was my right to do with it as I decided."

I guess you and the others were "shocked and awed" and didn't know were to start, beating him silly (not very judo-like, but hey) or calling a shaman to exorcise his idiocy away.

How did that end ?
posted by elpapacito at 2:40 AM on April 4, 2006

Isn't this basically the same as the new lobbying rules?
posted by EarBucket at 4:15 AM on April 4, 2006

Say what you will, but Africa has some great soccer, and I doubt this will affect how they do internationally.

As a fan of the English Premier League, I can second that. League soccer is by no means an indicator of the quality of soccer players there.
posted by TheFarSeid at 6:01 AM on April 4, 2006

Oops. With that last sentence I didn't mean to disparage English soccer. I was instead thinking of the many African players who are playing in England, one of the best leagues in the world. Who have a fine national team themselves. There.
posted by TheFarSeid at 6:05 AM on April 4, 2006

From what I understand bribery is not something that is alien to soccer leagues in Europe. I mean it helps to reinforce stereotypes that Nigeria has lots of corruption but get real.
posted by JJ86 at 9:29 AM on April 4, 2006

Yeah, Nigerians hand out bribes like they're going out of style. It's just accepted. You could never get rid it unless there was a major social change, and even then, I doubt anything would happen.
posted by delmoi at 9:52 AM on April 4, 2006

Sure, martinrebas, feel free to use the story for your page -- just give me the link.

And, elpapacito, no real result. No merciless beating or anything like that. We just kind of shrugged our shoulders and decided that he would no longer be club treasurer.

However, I seriously doubt our treasurer would have risked such a maneuver with friends from his village. Stealing does not seem to be taken lightly in Africa. In Tanzania -- if I understand correctly -- if you cry mwizi, meaning "thief," and point to somebody who has taken something from you, it is possible that people in the surrounding area will go get a tire and some gasoline, promptly place it around the suspect, and set him on fire with little remorse. Again, people don't have a lot and most want to keep what they have.

To qualify my story, a lot of times I think people know full-well that they are exagerating and pushing things a bit far. A lot of times people just push as far as they can, I think. In hopes of the best or something like that. Many Africans know that a lot of Westerners have some sort of pent up guilt and are not likely to retaliate, and are even quite likely to hand something over when asked nicely -- hence our reaction to the treasurer of the judo club. We "excused" him.

I think a lot of the mannerisms have to do with the fact that people feel that they have to take what they can while they can. It seems to be a reflex. It is also a bit tiring after a while as it seems to creep into most any relationship you have. The French say that you become a vache à lait -- a "cash cow." A message to my boys: if you have never lived in a developing country and you happen to fall in love while visiting, be prudent. And don't think it doesn't happen. Believe me, most all girls know that if you get married and then divorced, the embassy can administer any sort of alimony that might result.

And yes, bribes are very current in Africa. But don't forget that regular salaries aren't. Quite often the case of government officials and police. Tiring for a westerner when constantly asked for a few cents here and a bill or two there, but also a good way to overstay an expired visa... So it works both ways.
Of course, they don't even have the right to come to our countries.

I don't think that Africans are not in any way inherently dishonest or untrustworthy. The Western world has all sorts of crooks in high and low places alike. A lot have just learned to hide their activities better than others. In the developing world, when someone all of a sudden has a nice car or house, it is very obvious that there might be something behind it. And, there are really no secrets. Everybody knows who is doing what. Being that there is not usually much to do in the first place, people are well aware of what others are up to.

But the differences and, especially the realization thereof are very fun to experience.. if you don't get hoodwinked too bad that is.

Here are a couple more misconceptions for you martinrebas: Once I was speaking with a young man -- who was waiting to leave to continue his studies in Europe -- and he was telling me about white people. He thought it was strange that white people lived in hotels and that white women didn't know how to cook. I explained that he must be confused and that people simply stayed in hotels. But, for him, white people lived in hotels. He had seen it. I explained that some might stay for an extended period as one would rent an apartment. However, he insisted that most whites lived in hotels -- he had seen it first hand. I also explained that many white women actually do know how to cook -- and even some men -- its just that people sometimes like to go out. He, as a Comorian, couldn't easily understand that because, in his culture, eating outside of your home is a sign that your wife doesn't know how to cook -- an incredible insult and embarrassment. We took him to a cafe once and he was extremely uncomfortable. This was several years ago, so I am sure he has grown to understand the ways of the wazungu (the white man) since leaving the Comoros. I was a bit worried about him though, as he was on his way to Lyon -- a rather large city to say the least.

I can't begin to imagine how many more misconceptions there are. And television doesn't help the affair. Young people I met were convinced that soap operas were reality TV -- many African countries import low budget South American soap operas...and, I might add, become very attached to the characters. Porno also seems to have made a HUGE impression. With satelite TV and the internet, many people now have access. I used to watch hollywood stuff, euro films and episodes of X-files and the like with some village friends and, for them, it was as real as me sitting there next to them. Keep in mind, they were "seeing it with their own eyes."

One of my good buddies in the US was living in Los Angeles at the time and I spoke to him on the phone from time to time. He has a big personality and tends to say rather extravagant things. He told me that LA must be the center of the world with all the films and . I thought to myself -- not wanting to vex him, as he is rather sensitive -- "Center of the world? Which one? There are so many..."
posted by pwedza at 9:46 PM on April 4, 2006

pwedza, i've seen several people being beaten to death for theiving in tanzania and elsewhere. tanzanians wouldn't waste precious petrol though.

a long time ago a friend in a nearby village got sent the star wars trilogy on video. we organised a tv, generator etc and one afternoon had an open air showing. it was great. the next day we asked people for their reactions. they thought chewy was a trained gorilla, but more alarmingly a policeman from a large town nearby said.... 'you people in the west are very advanced'... gulp.

ah, afrique, god i wish i was back there
posted by quarsan at 10:08 PM on April 4, 2006

Sure, martinrebas, feel free to use the story for your page -- just give me the link.

pwedza: It's not finished yet. Do you have an email address where I can reach you?
posted by martinrebas at 10:55 AM on April 5, 2006

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