9 July 2014

Nigeria: Fifa Suspends Nigeria From International Competition

Photo: Steven Depolo/Flckr.com
Soccer ball (file photo).

World football's governing body has suspended Nigeria from all international competition, after a Nigerian court dismissed its NFF soccer authority and appointed a single administrator to manage the country's football.

FIFA banned Nigerian football teams from competing in any international competition, be it at club or national level, on a temporary basis on Wednesday. The emergency committee of FIFA set a deadline of Tuesday, July 15, for Nigeria to resolve the issue.

FIFA said that Nigeria had ignored two key FIFA statutes, guaranteeing that countries' soccer federations can manage their affairs individually and without "government interference."

"During the period of suspension, the NFF may not be represented in any regional, continental or international competitions, including at club level, or in friendly matches," a FIFA statement said. FIFA said the suspension would be lifted once "the properly elected NFF Executive Committee, the NFF general assembly and the NFF administration are able to work without interference in their affairs."

Clear-out after France exit, pay spat

After the Super Eagles lost 2-0 in the first knockout round to France at the World Cup, amid a dispute with players over bonus payments, Nigeria's government decided to clean house when the team returned home. A high court in Plateau State granted an injunction ejecting from office the president of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Aminu Maigari, his executive committee and the NFF congress. Maigari was also arrested.

Sports Minister Tammy Danagogo last Thursday appointed Lawrence Katiken as the sole temporary administrator of the NFF. The new NFF leadership issued a statement saying, "The failure of the Maigari-led NFF to fully and firmly resolve issues of finance" had caused Nigeria "international embarrassment."

Nigeria's women's under-20 side is the first facing real repercussions from the suspension: their participation in August's U-20 women's World Cup in Canada could be in danger unless Nigeria meets FIFA's July 15 deadline. Should the suspension last longer, Nigeria's campaign to defend its African Cup of Nations crown could also come into play. Qualifiers for the tournament start in September, the competition itself next January in Morocco.

FIFA also suspended Nigeria from international competition after the country's disappointing group-stage exit from the 2010 World Cup; this was in response to plans announced at the time by President Goodluck Jonathan to withdraw the country from international competition until it was ready for the world stage.

msh/hc (AFP, AP, dpa)

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