Nigeria has been given a final deadline by World football governing body, FIFA, alongside Ghana, to avoid international suspensions because of outside interference in their soccer associations.
FIFA said on Tuesday that the Nigerian Football Federation headquarters must be handed back to the elected leadership by Monday, August 20, 2018 or the country will be suspended from international competition.
This final deadline is coming after a group claiming to be in charge of Nigerian soccer took over the building last month, while NFF president Amaju Pinnick was in Russia for the World Cup. The group claimed a Nigerian court order gives them control of the federation.
The move was backed with a statement from the office of the Minister for Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung, which also ordered Chris Giwa who was voted as President of the NFF in a congress that wasn’t recognized by FIFA, to take over the running of football in Nigeria.
Though FIFA said the Nigerian women’s under-20 team currently competing at the World Cup in France would be able to continue in that tournament “on an exceptional basis” because it has already started, however the suspension means Nigerian national teams won’t be allowed to take part in any international competitions,
FIFA’s final warning reads in part;
“Two decisions of the Bureau of the FIFA Council in relation to undue influence in the affairs of the Nigeria Football Federation and the Ghana Football Association have been notified on 13 August 2018.
“In line with art. 16 par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes, the Bureau of the FIFA Council decided that if by Monday, 20 August 2018, at 12:00 (CET), the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) offices are not handed back to the legitimate NFF executive committee under President Amaju Melvin Pinnick, who was duly elected on 30 September 2014, the NFF will be suspended with immediate effect for contravening art. 14 par. 1 i) and art. 19, as well as art. 14 par. 1 a) of the FIFA Statutes.
“The suspension would be lifted only once the NFF, under President Amaju Melvin Pinnick and General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi, confirms that it has been given back effective control of the NFF and its offices.
“Furthermore, the Bureau decided that if the suspension of the NFF takes effect, the Nigerian team currently competing in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 will still be allowed to continue to participate in the tournament on an exceptional basis given that the tournament is underway.”
Ghana on the other hand, has been given until Aug. 27 to reverse a court order dissolving its soccer association. The government ordered the GFA to be dissolved after allegations of widespread corruption in Ghanaian soccer were made, in an undercover documentary. FIFA doesn’t allow governments to interfere in the running of soccer bodies.
The undercover documentary captured GFA president and FIFA Council member Kwesi Nyantakyi, allegedly accepting a cash gift of $65,000 from undercover journalists. Ghanaian soccer has been thrown into crisis because of the allegations.