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FIFA suspend Nigeria over political interference

Updated: Wednesday, 09 Jul 2014 20:51 | Comments

Nigeria made it to the Last 16 in Brazil after some impressive performances
Nigeria made it to the Last 16 in Brazil after some impressive performances

FIFA has suspended Nigeria from all international football amid allegations of government interference in its football federation.

FIFA announced the ban, which means no Nigerian team, including club sides, can play internationally, on Wednesday evening after warning they would take action if the NFF's sacked executive committee was not reinstated.

The move comes in response to a court order which compelled the Nigerian Minister of Sports to appoint a senior member of the civil service to take over the running of the Nigeria Football Federation in the wake of the nation's exit from the World Cup finals in Brazil.

A statement from FIFA's emergency committee said: "The FIFA Emergency Committee has decided today, 9 July 2014, to suspend the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) with immediate effect, on account of government interference.

"The decision follows a letter sent by FIFA to the NFF on 4 July 2014, in which it expressed its great concern after the NFF was served with court proceedings and consequently an order preventing the president of the NFF, the NFF Executive Committee members and the NFF Congress from running the affairs of Nigerian football was granted by a High Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

"The said court order compelled the Nigerian Minister of Sports to appoint a senior member of the civil service to manage the NFF until the matter was heard in court, without giving any date for such a hearing.

"The authorities then appointed a person who decided to convene an extraordinary general assembly on 5 July 2014. This extraordinary general assembly was convened in violation of the NFF statutes.

"Originally, an elective congress had been planned by the NFF to take place on 26 August 2014.

"The suspension will be lifted once the court actions have been withdrawn and the properly elected NFF Executive Committee, the NFF general assembly and the NFF administration are able to work without any interference in their affairs."

FIFA acted after its warnings went unheeded with an extraordinary general assembly of the federation taking place in Abuja at the weekend without NFF chief Aminu Maigari, his executive committee and the NFF congress having been restored to power.

Maigari was arrested on his return from South America, Nigeria reached the second round, but bowed out after a 2-0 defeat by France in the last 16, but was later released.

Coach Stephen Keshi stepped down after the tournament.

The first impact of FIFA's move will be felt by Nigeria's women, who will be prevented from taking part in the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup in Canada next month - should the suspension not be lifted by July 15.

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