FG Disowns NFF Over Saintfiet Deal

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Supervising Minister of Sports and Chairman, National Sports Commission NSC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi has stated that the Federal Government of Nigeria has not disowned the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF over the appointment of Tom Saintfiet as Technical Director of the football body.

Abdullahi in a chat in his opening speech at a One-Day Retreat on Understanding Extant Rules organised by the NSC for all the Parastatals and Federations in the country, stressing that there is need for stakeholders in sports and administrators to understand the rules guiding the relationship between the NSC and the relevant sports bodies in order to avoid conflict.

He noted that the NFF is yet to brief the NSC on the appointment of the technical director, insisting that as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he is supposed to know when a foreigner is coming into the country to work.

“We need to know the line of authority between the NSC and the parastatals under it. We have people who said that they are autonomous, independent of the government, yet the same government will hold me accountable for how funds allocated to these federations were spent. So, we need to know if the Minister has the right to know about the appointment of a technical director for the NFF because as I’m talking now, the NFF has not told me anything about it.” Abdullahi said.

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“So, if the President of Nigeria calls me now to brief him about the appointment of a foreigner coming to Nigeria to head the Technical Department of the NFF, I will tell the President that I know nothing about it. It is wrong and I’m not being personal about It.” he added.

However in his reaction to the minister’s allegation, President of the NFF, Aminu Maigari, said that the football body never meant to slight the Minister or those in higher authority, stressing that the tradition in the football community all over the world under FIFA is to employ a foreign Technical Director, who will then be presented to the Minister and the leadership of the NSC with all the necessary information.

“The NFF fully respects the Minister and the leadership of the NSC. The NFF obeys laws from two bodies. We must obey the Nigerian law and the rules and regulations of FIFA. In the case of the appointment of the Technical Director, the culture within the football family in FIFA is that the NFF will employ the Technical Director and he will then be introduced to the minister, the Director General and other sports stakeholders before he resumes work officially, that is the standard and the NFF did not slight the minister or the Federal Government. We can never do that” Maigari assured.

—Francis Achi/Abuja