Tuesday, October 28, 2014

History of Fifa's ban on Nigeria from 1989 to 2014

-Azeez Mustapha

Sports journalist,pundits,commentators and football enthusiastic Nigerians have been campaigning for the independence of the Nigerian Football Federation for avoidance of persistent Fifa sanctions and for the body to be absolved from all sort of political influence from the government, we explore Fifa's banning legacy on Nigerian football from 1989 to 2014.

After the successful outing of Nigeria at the 1989 Fifa Youth Championship where they lost the trophy to Portugal in the finals by two goals, Nigeria faced Fifa axe after she was banned for two year from all age grade competitions as a direct result of the discrepancies in the ages of the players that represented the Country at the 1989 Fifa youth championship in saudi Arabia.

On 2nd july 2010, the country was once again on the World football governing radar, this time Fifa had threatened an international ban on Nigeria due to constant interference in the administration of Football in the country by government officials.
President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria had banned the national team for two years due to the lackluster performance of the super eagles at the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa as against the Fifa rule which states that"National Football associations must not be subjected to government control".
On 5th july 2010 after being banned for nine days President Goodluck Jonathan rescinded his decision to ban the national team and football activities resumed once again.

On 7th march 2013, the Nigerian Football body received a letter from the world Football governing body(Fifa) asking for clarification on reports that Lesbians have been banned from the game in the country. The chairperson of the Nigerian Women Football league and a member of the NFF's Executive committee Dilichukwu Onyedinma was reported to have said that "Lesbianism is now officially banned from Nigerian football,however that contrary to Fifa's anti-discrimination policies but it was a very tricky issue for Fifa because homosexuality is illegal under Nigerian law so it was averted.

On 9th july 2014, Fifa again banned Nigeria after a prior warning letter was written to the glass house on 4 july 2014. Trouble started when the sports minister of Nigeria Tammy Danagogo appointed Lawrence Katiken to run the NFF. The minister's move was unavoidable because the owner of Nembe city football club in the Nigeria top division Ebiakpo Rumson Baribote had initially gone to court to obtain "an interlocutory Injunction" which prevented the immediate past NFF president Aminu maigari, his Executive board and Congress of the NFF from managing the Affairs of the Football matters in the country.
The motion had been granted and the minister had to respect the court by appointing a civil servant to temporarily oversee affairs in the white house, however Fifa prohibits the use of law court for the resolution of football and all warring factions should at all time channel there grievances to the Court Of Arbitration for Sports.

On 26th August 2014, Nigeria and Fifa re-ignited their long history of banning threats when the Chairman of top Nigerian premier league side Giwa Fc, Chris Giwa claimed to have been elected as the President of Nigeria Football Federation and resumed at the white house but Fifa did not recognize him and instead gave a deadline of Monday 8th September 2014 to step aside or Nigeria face lengthy ban from the world Football governing body. However he failed to appear at the NFF Office on Monday 8th September 2014 and a case was taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sports on behalf of his committee as Football loving Nigerians breath a sigh of relieve one again.

On 23rd october 2014, just as enthusiastic Football loving Nigerians were still highly optimistic about the future of Football in the country now that they have a new Executive committee and thought the banning saga was gone for good, It appeared that Nigeria was testing the patience of Fifa once again as a Jos high Court again annulled the Football Federation election that ushered in Former Delta state FA chairman Amaju Pinnick as President and Former Lagos state FA chairman Seyi Akinwunmi as Vice president.

Religious follower of Nigeria football knew exactly what next to expect since the world football governing body had earlier threatened to clamp down on Nigeria if anything derails the outcome of the election in Warri, it was later alleged that two members of the Chris Giwa group had gone to court to stop the NFF congress from holding.

However, Justice Ambrose Allagoa of the Federal High Court in jos declared in his ruling that " I have set aside all the proceedings and decisions of the extraordinary meeting of the 20th September and the Elective congress of 30th September which were direct contradiction of the order of this court as granted on the 19th September 2014.

Although the leadership of the NFF who had earlier performed its first official action with the sacking of super eagles coach Stephen Keshi and his technical crew and also appointing Samson Siasia as the manager of the Olympic team, they also immediately appealed the ruling.

The drama continues to unfold as spectators and other Football loving Nigerians alike who have experienced the ban and unban game between Nigeria and Fifa need not be told that this saga is far from over.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

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