FIFA Ban: A Wake Up Call For Nigeria


The news that Federation of International Football Association, FIFA, has suspended  Nigeria from international football came as a rude shock to many Nigerians early this  week. FIFA had taken the decision as a corrective measure to ensure that the Federal  Government does not interfere with the administration of Nigerian football, which has  dropped to its lowest ebb among the comity of football playing nations.

The ban on Nigeria means that all the national teams including the Super Eagles cannot  feature in any international football tournament until further notice. Unlike in the mid  90s’ bans placed on Nigeria by the world soccer governing body and its African affiliate,  CAF, when the nation’s teams were suspended for specific periods of between two to four  years, the recent suspension by the Joseph Sepp Blatter-led FIFA is  not too harsh to  contend with because it’s not time bound. What this implies is that if the authorities in  Nigeria are ready to seek an immediate redress by correcting the irregularities as  pointed out by FIFA, our national teams can return to the global community and play the  game within the shortest possible time.

But before such supercilious aim can be achieved, FIFA, in its letter to the country  demanded that all court cases against the apex football ruling body, Nigeria Football  Federation, NFF, be withdrawn with immediate effect. Also, the world football ruling  authority, which faulted the removal of the Acting Secretary-General of NFF, Musa Amedu,  wants the decision reversed.

Another grouse that FIFA has against Nigeria, and which it wants an immediate reversal,  is the peace deal that allowed last season’s Premier League to end without relegation.  The illegal deal, according to FIFA, was understandably brokered by the Sports Minister,  Alhaji Ibrahim Bio, who doubles as Chairman of the National Sports Commission, NSC.

Our football administrators need not be told that FIFA’s decision is in conformity with  the rules guiding the game, especially the issue of fair-play, which were not  demonstrated by the Minister and his advisers. We want to point out that the decision not  to have any team relegated from the Premier League at the end of last season was an error  and a disgrace to our professional league.

In fact, that action alone has undermined the progress already achieved by the Nigerian  league, which has been struggling to climb the ladder of professionalism for many years.

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No country has absolute right to interfere in the running of football and that is what  FIFA has demonstrated with Monday’s suspension of Nigeria.  We should see this period of  ban as a wake up call for Nigeria, an opportunity to right the wrongs in our nation’s  football administration.

The FIFA statutes state clearly that affiliated football federations cannot be taken to  any law or civil court, which the National Association of Nigerian Footballers, NANF, has  done with an injunction placed on the NFF before August’elections.

In our opinion, Nigerian football will suffer a serious setback if our apex football  body, NFF, remains banned. That is why we should use this dark period to quickly address  the lull in our football. The Super Eagles, who appear to be training in vain in Abuja  will miss weekend’s Africa Nations Cup qualifier against Guinea, while the Super Falcons  will also miss the African Women’s Championship, AWC, slated to kick off in South Africa  by end of this month.

The cheery news, however, is that the contempt of court charges instituted against some  NFF officials, including the FIFA Executive member, Dr. Amos Adamu have been thrown out.  We also heard that Amadu returned to his post as Acting Secretary-General of NFF on  Tuesday, while the other crises are being resolved by the feuding members of the football  community in Nigeria.

If these are addressed and normalcy returns to our troubled football administration, such  accord would automatically bring back the Alhaji Aminu Maigari-led board, which FIFA  claimed was legally voted into office. It is our belief that FIFA will graciously lift  the ban on Nigeria and accept our teams back to the international football community if  the authorities can handle the situation with maturity and diplomacy.

Our nation desires positive football administration, which in the long run would help the  likes of Obinna Nsofor, Obafemi Martins, Uche Kalu and Osaze Odemwingie amongst other  young players actualise their potential. Sports generally is big business and our  football industry can still be what it used to be when the national teams brought laurels  to our dear country. A vibrant football culture takes youths away from drugs, kidnapping,  armed robbery and other violent crimes that makes the society insecure for all.

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