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Rediff.com  » Sports » FIFA gives Nigeria ultimatum over team ban

FIFA gives Nigeria ultimatum over team ban

Last updated on: July 02, 2010 18:04 IST

Nigeria has until Monday evening to reverse a decision to withdraw the national soccer team from international competition or its football federation will be suspended, FIFA said on Friday.

Soccer's world governing body, which does not tolerate government interference in football matters, said a failure to comply with its ultimatum would mean the Nigerian Football Federation would be barred from all FIFA-related activities.

"FIFA will today send a letter to the Nigerian football federation indicating that the government of Nigeria has until Monday evening to cancel its decision to withdraw Nigeria's participation in all FIFA and CAF organised football competitions," FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot told a news briefing on Friday.

On Wednesday, Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan withdrew the Super Eagles from international competition for the next two years following their poor performance in the World Cup when they were knocked out in the first round after failing to win a match.

After meeting the country's World Cup organising committee, Jonathan also said the accounts of the committee should be audited, and named an 11-member caretaker committee to restructure the administration and management of the game.

Maingot said FIFA would not recognise the management committee, but added it would send an executive member of the world body to attempt last minute mediation on Monday.

FOOTBALL IN JEOPARDY

If the Nigerian government fails to heed to FIFA's ultimatum, it risks getting cut-off from all FIFA activities, including junior and female competitions, and also FIFA funding to the football association.

"A suspension goes beyond the suspension of the national team, it also involves the freezing of the financial help and no referees can participate in international competition," Maingot said.

Nigeria were set to begin their bid to qualify for the 2012 African Nations Cup finals in September against Madagascar.

They also qualified for the upcoming women's world championships at under-20 and under-17 level and their top club side Heartland is to play in the African Champions League group phase later this month.

A ban would also cut access to its development courses and stop the annual payment of $250,000 each member associations receives, cash that is much needed by Nigerian football.

This latest episode is not the first time Nigerian political authorities have been at loggerheads with football governing bodies over political interference.

Nigeria were banned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in 1996 when then President Sani Abacha withdrew the team from the African Nations Cup finals in South Africa because he had been criticised by Nelson Mandela over the judicial execution of political opponents.

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