Michael Ike Dibie
Nigeria has less than 24 hours to sort out the running of their football federation if they want to avoid the possibility of being banned by FIFA from international soccer, including exclusion from next month’s African Nations Cup qualifiers.
Soccer’s governing body issued the country with a final warning due to alleged state interference in the running of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF).
FIFA’s 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 says it would suspend Nigeria.
President Amaju Pinnick long-standing rival Chris Giwa took control after a recent court case him as the NFF President at the end of a protracted legal protest of the 2014 election results.
However, a Nigerian sports analyst, Godwin Ahigbe said Nigerians should wait for the ban adding that FIFA should desist from supporting the actions of the former head of the NFF, Amaju Pinnic.
He reiterated that even if the ban comes and last for ten years, Giwa will still be president depending on how people look at the case.
According to Ahigbe, since the crisis began, Nigeria has taken part in about two competitions, including the undergoing female world cup in France, while the under 13 National team defeated Mauritius in the African cup of nations qualifying game. He noted that the crisis is not disturbing anybody at all.
Nigeria is due to play a qualifier for the 2019 African Nations Cup on September 8, but a ban could lead to an expulsion from the preliminaries.
Nigeria has a long history of being threatened with FIFA sanctions for government or court interference in NFF affairs but have previously always backed down.
Ghana was also warned on Tuesday, but their government has quickly climbed down over a proposed legal bid to wind up the country’s football association (GFA) over corruption allegations.