Football stakeholders in the country have expressed their fears over a ban on Nigeria by world football governing body FIFA following the ongoing leadership tussle in the Nigeria Football Federation.
The country’s football witnessed a new twist after Chris Giwa resumed at the Glasshouse office of the NFF in Abuja on Monday as the president of the football body.
Giwa, who was elected as NFF president on August 26, 2014, has been in a leadership battle with the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF board, after an order from a Jos High Court had stopped the election which brought Pinnick to office on September 30, 2014 in Warri, Delta State.
Giwa reportedly resumed at the Glasshouse with armed policemen to enforce the Supreme Court judgment.
Giwa’s takeover came after the Ministry of Youth and Sports directed the NFF to comply with the judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on April 27, which restored the orders of the Federal High Court setting aside the purported election into the Executive Committee of the NFF held on September 30, 2014.
Sports minister Solomon Dalung in a statement from his media aide Nneka Anibeze during the week said the directive followed a written notification signed for the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice requesting the sports ministry to ensure compliance.
A ban by FIFA will immediately affect the country’s participation at the U-20 Women’s World Cup in France in August as well as the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in September and Enyimba’s participation in the CAF Confederation Cup.
Stakeholders, who spoke with our correspondent, said the parties involved in the dispute should do all they can to avoid the ban as it will adversely affect the country.
Former Gombe State Football Association boss Shuaibu Gara Gombe believes the NFF crisis has been lingering for too long and called for a speedy resolution for the benefit of the national teams.
“The reason why this case is in court in the first instance is because the FIFA Statutes have yet to be domesticated in Nigeria. Once that is done, there will be a solution to this repeated case of court battles every four years,” he said.
“I believe at this point a presidential resolution is necessary for the benefit of our national teams who will be competing at the World Cup and qualifiers. The country cannot afford to get a ban for now.”
Also, former Enyimba coach Godfrey Esu said, “If the parties involved are still not willing to sheath their swords and the country gets a ban, it will stagnate every football activity we have in the country and indirectly contribute to the crime rate.
“This is because many youths have been taken off the streets into various football academies across the country and many of them are getting out of this country monthly into other countries. A ban will stop that and these youths may resort to unhealthy lifestyles.
“Our clubs will just play in our league and nothing will be rewarding. The people involved in this crisis are not going to be affected – the sports minister, Pinnick and Giwa – because their children are not playing football in the country. The masses who earn their livelihood from football and many others who benefit from the sport will suffer.
“Our players abroad cannot also move because they will not have national team activity to fulfill their movement to big clubs. A ban has a bad ripple effect but the poor ones will suffer it most. The government should talk to the parties involved and nip this in the bud early before FIFA shifts attention to the country.”
But former Super Falcons striker Stella Mbachu believes the imbroglio would not get to the stage of a ban before it is resolved.
“We are getting used to this kind of issue in our football – although it is high time it was stopped. Every four years, political issues in the NFF crop up before and after the World Cup and FIFA threatens to ban us and all of a sudden it dies down.
“I only worry about the Falconets because those girls need an opportunity to better their lives through the World Cup. The parties involved should work on a lasting solution and focus on developing football in the country rather than this political problem every four years.”
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