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|August 31, 2000||
FIFA help sought to solve player row
Nigeria's Football Association has called on FIFA to intervene in a growing row with foreign clubs over the release of players for the Sydney Olympics.
Nigeria is particularly seeking the help of world soccer's ruling body over Arsenal striker Nwankwo Kanu and Chelsea defender Celestine Babayaro.
"We've asked FIFA to make sure that Kanu and Babayaro are released to us six days before the Olympics," NFA spokesman Austin Mgbolu told Reuters in Lagos on Wednesday.
"If they (clubs) still fail to comply, it will be up to FIFA to act," he said.
The NFA is having a tug-of-war with European clubs as they bid to defend the Olympic title they won in 1996.
Arsenal are reluctant to release Kanu as he would miss five premier league games and their first three matches in the Champions League.
However, English clubs are not the only ones drawn into the row. On Tuesday, German side Hansa Rostock said they wanted to keep Nigerian striker Victor Agali.
Kanu, 24, the inspiration behind Nigeria's success four years ago, was named as one of three permitted over-age players.
Another over-age player, Garba Lawal of Dutch team Roda JC Kerkrade, told Reuters on Wednesday he was not sure if he would be released for the Games.
"I received the NFA invitation and I am aware that my club has a copy. But no one has discussed with me whether I will be released to play in the Olympics or not," Lawal said in Lagos.
Lawal was here for Nigeria's 2002 Nations Cup qualifier against Namibia on Saturday.
Mail Sports Editor
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