FIFA threatens worldwide ban on Nigeria over litigation

World football governing body, FIFA has warned that it would hesitate to ban Nigeria from all football once the need arises. FIFA warned that it will not consult with any of those fighting for the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation before throwing the country out of the game if it establishes that a third party had been meddling in the country’s football matters.

The Nigerian football community was jolted on Friday by a Supreme Court decision directing the parties fighting for the leadership of the NFF to go back to the Jos High court to sort out the suit filed by one of the groups led by Chris Giwa who is claiming the right to lead the federation.

Following the suit filed by the group loyal to Giwa, the world football governing body in 2016 banned all those involved in instituting the case, including Giwa, Muazu Suleiman, Effiong Johnson, Yahaya Adama and Sani Fema from all football related activities for five years.

The world body later extended the five-year ban to a worldwide ban following the Giwa group’s decision to take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sports.

In the FIFA letter to the NFF in 2016, the world body said, “In accordance with art. 136ff of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, the chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided to extend the five-year ban from taking part in any kind of football-related activity imposed on the five officials to have worldwide effect.

“The relevant member association, as well as CAF has been duly notified of the chairman’s decision.

“Members of the media with questions relating to the substance of the decision are kindly requested to contact the NFF.”

Reacting to Friday’s Supreme Court decision on the issue, FIFA warned Nigeria at the weekend that it would not hesitate to suspend the country from world football, including stopping the Super Eagles from participating in the 2018 World Cup.

On Sunday, the NFF said it had taken note of the decision of the Supreme Court to refer back to the Federal High Court, to start afresh a case brought before the apex court by two football stakeholders against the NFF leadership.

The NFF First Vice President/Chairman, Legal Committee, Seyi Akinwunmi said the federation appreciated the reasoning of the apex court in refusing the prayers of the appellants, which if granted would have accorded them some kind of legitimacy, against the backdrop of an ongoing administration of Nigerian Football which is at the cusp of taking Nigeria to the world’s greatest football event, the World Cup.

He disclosed that the NFF’s lawyers were confidently prepared to argue the case afresh and look forward to finally putting the matter to rest, and to prove to the world that Nigerian football can continue to be run in its orderly manner.

He referred to the case as a mere distraction for Nigerian Football, which ought not to have been instituted in the first place given the convention for resolution of football disputes.

Akinwunmi said, “We are law-abiding citizens of this great country, and we have no qualms about starting the case afresh. The Supreme Court did the right thing in the circumstances, and while we must be careful not to discuss matters which are subjudice, we must note that the appellants have within the norms in sporting disputes, actually exhausted all legitimate channels in this matter, including arguing their position, and failing, at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“Globally, the convention of football is that football matters should not be taken to civil courts. Instead, it should be taken to Arbitration as the appellants have already done in this matter with no success. That ordinarily should have been the end of the matter. However, as law-abiding citizens, the NFF is ready to follow this through, vindicate ourselves and continue with the peaceful and enormous progress that has come to define Nigerian Football in the past few years.”