Except for a final resolution of the leadership tussle of Nigerian football, the World football governing body, FIFA, may on Monday ban the country from its activities globally.
The soccer governing body issued Nigeria with a final warning due to alleged state interference in the running of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF). FIFA’s recognised leadership were kicked out of the NFF and a rival faction has taken control.
FIFA do not accept third party interference in its member federations and said the NFF must be led by its elected president, voted in 2014. If that does not happen, FIFA said it would suspend Nigeria.
“The suspension would be lifted only once the NFF, under President Amaju Pinnick and General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi, confirms that it has been given back effective control of the NFF and its offices,” said FIFA.
Pinnick’s long-standing rival Ambassador Chris Giwa took control after a recent court case recognised him as the NFF president at the end of a protracted legal protest of the 2014 election results.
If Giwa’s faction do not vacate the offices by the Monday’s midday deadline, FIFA is expected to impose a ban.
Nigeria are due to play a qualifier for the 2019 African Nations Cup in the Seychelles on September 8 but a ban could lead to an expulsion from the preliminaries.
Nigeria have a long history of being threatened with FIFA sanctions for government or court interference in NFF affairs but have previously always backed down.
Meanwhile, Giwa has reiterated that nobody wants the country suspended by FIFA from global football activities, contrary to insinuations by some persons.
Amb. Giwa argued that Nigeria has not erred in anyway to deserve any sanctions from the global football governing body, despite its threat to axe the country.
“In any case, nobody wants Nigeria to be suspended or banned, as efforts are being made to avoid it, even as we know some people instigated it.
“We hope to resolve this unfortunate development caused by people, who think they are bigger than the country and its laws, but no matter how far they go, the long arm of the law will catch up with them, some day,” he pointed out.
He further stated: ” It’s unfortunate that the government has been dragged into this whole leadership tussle, even when it was glaring it had no involvement in the crisis,but it suits the narrative of those beating the drum of FIFA ban.”
Giwa noted: “We hope all this will be resolved, and the country, comes out the winner, as against the posturing of ‘we can do without the government’ because sports cannot grow and develop without the active involvement of government of Nigeria.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Nigeria has not done anything to deserve any suspension because, the law of natural justice expects you hear from parties in disputes and not just from one party.
Even an armed robber caught in the act is also given a fair hearing, but regrettably FIFA has failed to do in this instance.”
The NFF President, asked rhetorically :” Can we resolve this matter without any input from the government? How do you reconcile that the same people, who accuse the government of partisanship, when it suits them, also runs to the same government for intervention?”
“We have done everything with respect to the laws of the land, walking the path of justice and peace, and believe the country has been unfairly portrayed global for personal gains, which, for us is condemnable,” Amb. Giwa submitted.