SPORTS: THE FIFA 24 HOURS GRACE TO NFF EXPIRES TODAY
Nigeria football may hug the lime light for the wrong reason as it is unfortunately heading into a long, dark night as world football governing body, FIFA, is set to wield the big stick today against the most populous black nation on earth.
Even as the Super Eagles still have a chance of qualifying for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations to defend their crown, despite a poor start in the race; even with the Golden Eaglets, the reiging champions of the world, ready to compete at the African Championship to be eligible to travel to Chile to defend their world title next year, and with the Super Falcons reclaiming their continental title in Namibia on Saturday, non –conformity to simple football rules and regulations has put Nigeria at the danger of a big slam.
On Saturday in Windhoek, Namibia, CAF President Issa Hayatou told Nigeria’s Sports Minister, Tammy Danagogo in clear terms that the world was fed up with Nigeria’s incorrigibility in the area of football administration.
Hayatou’s words: “I had to plead passionately with FIFA President, Mr. Sepp Blatter not to take action on Nigeria on Friday, because Nigeria was in the final of the African Women Championship and a ban on your country would have been bad for the competition and our sponsors. We all heard the news of the court ruling on Thursday, and the football world is angry with Nigeria. That is the truth.
“The FIFA letter that came to your Federation before the elections of September 30 was very clear about an automatic suspension should there be any interference with the political process, and after the elections went ahead, we all thought you had settled your issues.”
The CAF supremo, at a meeting that had Nigeria’s Sports Minister, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Namibia, Ambassador Biodun Olorunfemi, Nigeria’s Deputy President of the CAF Appeal Board, Mazi Amanze Uchegbulam, CAF General Coordinator, Mr. Paul Bassey and CAF Media Committee Member, Aisha Falode in attendance, said there was no going back on suspension of Nigeria this week if football matters are not withdrawn from civil courts.
“I appealed to FIFA to give until Monday for Nigeria to put its act together. After that, there is absolutely nothing I can do. It is all very disappointing because we have over 50 National Associations in Africa, but a big country like Nigeria is the one always giving us the biggest headache.
“Nigeria signed to be part of the football world by joining FIFA, and opted to abide by the FIFA –approved Statutes that you have. How many times do we have to tell your country that football matters are not taken to civil courts? If Nigeria no longer wants to be part of the football world, then so be it,” an obviously exasperated Hayatou said. His French words were translated to the rest of the Nigeria delegation by the multi-lingual Paul Bassey.
FIFA President Blatter and CAF President Hayatou, as well as several National Associations and NFF’s partners and political leaders around the world, congratulated Amaju Pinnick following his victory at the September 30 elections.
NFF President, Pinnick, who was, inexplicably, stopped by security operatives at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on his way to Namibia on Friday night with the Sports Minister, monitored the meeting on phone.
Last Thursday, the Federal High Court, Jos gave a ruling setting aside the FIFA –ordered elections of 30th September, 2014 into the NFF Executive Committee, stoking the fire of anger at the world body’s Zurich headquarters.
The NFF Executive Committee, led by Amaju Pinnick, has filed for a Stay-of-Execution of the order at the same court, which the court said it will be hear on Wednesday.
Falode, who spoke from Windhoek yesterday, said it was obvious the Government of Nigeria has to now intervene to avoid the hammer falling on Nigeria football.
“The future of millions of Nigerian youth is being put at risk by some persons who feel they have nothing to lose in the case of a FIFA ban. It is now for the Government to wade in. If we get suspended from international football now, FIFA will not revisit the matter until their 65th Congress on May 29, 2015. That would be too bad for our country’s football,” Falode said.