FIFA backs Pinnick as NFF President as Nigeria faces ban

Pius Ayinor

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino has stated categorically the world football ruling body recognises only Amaju Pinnick as president of Nigeria Football Federation, and will not accept any outside interference in the affairs of the NFF, reports.

Infantino made FIFA’s position clear at a press conference in Moscow on Friday was responding to a question from a Nigerian journalist. He said Pinnick was duly elected and in accordance with FIFA rules and Nigeria would have to strictly abide by the football statutes or risk getting a ban especially if the situation continued as it is now.

He said, “The situation is very clear. Pinnick was duly elected some years ago, and FIFA is aware of all this.

“It is also clear to all within the family that there can be no interference in the running of the national federations by any party, especially those outside the football family. So, Pinnick is the President of NFF for FIFA, because he is the one elected.

“Some time ago there was a dispute and this issue is coming up again. But this issue is very clear, we have a statute, we have regulations, there can be no interference in the running of the association. For this reason Pinnick is working here in his official capacity. He is the president of NFF. He is the president elected by the Nigerian football association members and that is the end of the story.

“And if any external bodies think they can change the situation, then Nigeria would risk to be banned as it has happened in other countries. In FIFA we have processes and democratic ways that must be respected, so it’s a very clear cut and simple case as far as we are concerned. We have made this very clear, but you (media) can help us transmit this message clearer to Nigerian authorities if it was not clear enough.”

The NFF has Chris Giwa as its president currently, owing to a compliance with a court order and the support of the sports minister Solomon Dalung.

Giwa had obtained a Jos court exparte order to take over the running of affairs at the NFF in compliance with a Supreme Court order without the knowledge of the elected board of the NFF.

The apex court had directed all parties involved in the matter to return to the lower courts for another look at the case against NFF’s September 30, 2014 elections in Warri.

Giwa had insisted that his earlier election on July 24, 2014 in Abuja should stand, while Pinnick’s election in Warri took place contrary to laid-down regulations. But while the case was still on, Giwa and his team separately sought an exparte order to immediately take over, pending the determination of the full case. The Pinnick-led board members said they were taken by surprise as their counsel was not duly informed of such decision.