By RON FANFAIR
Soccer’s world governing body, the International Football Federation (FIFA), has suspended Nigeria from all of its sanctioned competitions because of government interference.
FIFA rules prohibit any government intervention with its members.
“The decision follows the latest events linked to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) such as the court actions against elected members of its executive committee preventing them from exercising their functions and duties, the stepping down of the acting NFF general secretary on the instructions of the national sports commission, the decision of the Minister of Sports to have the Nigerian league start without relegation from the previous season and the fact that the NFF executive committee cannot work properly due to this interference,” FIFA said in a statement.
“This suspension will be maintained until the court actions have ceased and the duly elected NFF executive committee is able to work without any interference. During the period of suspension, the NFF will not be able to be represented in any regional, continental or international competitions, including at club level, and also not in friendly matches.
“In addition, neither the NFF nor any of its members or officials can benefit from any development program, course, or training from FIFA or the Confederation of African Soccer while the federation remains suspended.”
The suspension means Nigeria will not be able to take part in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers until the issue is resolved.
West Africa Soccer Union president and FIFA executive committee member, Dr. Amos Adamu, supports the ban.
“The whole thing is affecting our soccer,” said the Nigerian sports administrator. “We cannot continue this way. We know the rules and must follow them if we want to keep playing in international soccer. FIFA has over 208 members and the question to ask is why would Nigeria alone go against the rules? We must be ready to abide by FIFA statutes. The court of arbitration is there for whoever is aggrieved.”
Former Nigeria coach Christian Chukwu also agreed.
“I am sad that FIFA’s hammer has fallen on us even though we deserve it,” he said. ‘It is sad, but if it is what will bring progress and peace to our soccer, then we need it. There has been interference from government.”