Nigeria women’s soccer team is breathing easier after the International Soccer Federation (FIFA) lifted a ban that threatened the country’s participation in the International Soccer Federation (FIFA) Under-20 World Cup in Canada.
Soccer’s ruling governing body imposed the ban for government interference when a sole administrator replaced the Nigerian Soccer Federation (NFF) earlier this month.
Last week, a court order quashed that ruling and a lawsuit was withdrawn.
FIFA had given Nigeria until July 17 to reinstate the board in order for the Women’s Under-20 side to play at the World Cup.
The governing body confirmed it had reinstated Nigeria’s rights to play internationals.
“FIFA has lifted the suspension that was imposed on the Nigeria Football Federation on account of interference,” the sport’s governing body said in a release. “FIFA has noted that the court proceedings and order preventing the president of the NFF, the NFF Executive Committee members and the NFF Congress from running the affairs of Nigerian football that prompted the suspension have been withdrawn.”
It means the Super Eagles will be able to defend their Africa Cup of Nations title when qualifying matches start in September. The tournament kicks off next January in Morocco.
Meanwhile, 2014 African women’s championship host Namibia is in the same group with six-time winners Nigeria, fellow debutants Zambia and Ivory Coast.
The tournament, which will also serve as qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada next year, takes place October 11-25 in two stadiums in Windhoek. The top three countries will represent Africa in the World Cup.
Three-time runner-up South Africa is in the same pool with Cameroon, Ghana and Algeria.
“I am happy with the draw,” said South African coach, Vera Pauw. “I could not have asked for a better outcome. If you want to be a champion, you must be prepared to slug it out against the best.”
By RON FANFAIR