The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has been engulfed in crisis shortly after the country’s national team, the Super Eagles, crashed out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which took place in Russia.
It is pertinent to note that football crisis is a usual occurrence in Nigeria after every World Cup year. We recall after Nigeria lost to Denmark 4-1 in the second round of the 1998 World Cup, the then NFF President, Abdulmumini Aminu, was booted out of office despite having a good reign. Some board members fought Aminu just as the Ministry of Sports were against his ambition to run for a second term.
After the country crashed out of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Alhaji Sani Lulu was impeached in a miraculous way following a crisis in the Federation. In 2014, Aminu Maigari’s board had serious issues within and also against the Ministry of Sports and so he was sent packing after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
This time, we are indeed facing a similar scenario as Amaju Pinnick is being haunted, perhaps because he is seeking a second term in office. It is important to state that the current leadership crisis started from the onset of the Pinnick administration, which comes to an end in a matter of weeks. A club owner, Chris Giwa, has been in and out of the courts in the past four years. This crisis led to the ouster of the Super Eagles from the qualifying series of the Nations Cup in 2015. Along the line, Giwa took the matter to the Court of Arbitration and lost, while the world football body, FIFA, also placed a ban on him, along with four others. Giwa’s club, FC Giwa, was expelled from the domestic league.
The Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, actually triggered the current feud when he urged the NFF to respect a court order.
The release issued by the Special Assistant to Dalung on Media, Nneka Anibeze, read: “I have been directed to notify you of the orders dated June 5, 2018 made by Honourable Justice M. H. Kurya, sitting at the Federal High Court, Jos, in respect of the above-mentioned suit between Yahaya Adama Vs Alhaji Aminu Maigari, which states that the election of the NFF held on August 26, 2014, under the leadership of Chris Giwa be given recognition pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed in this case and that the purported ban of the Executive Committee elected on August 26, 2014, from football activities of the NFF is unconstitutional, null and void…
“This is a court order and not from Dalung. I will not want to go to Kuje prison because of disobedience of court orders. Therefore, I hereby comply with the court orders of June 5, 2018, while Mr. Amaju Pinnick and others are also directed to comply with same.”
A day after the statement was released, Giwa, who is under FIFA ban, stormed the NFF office, claiming they have taken over the running of the activities of the Federation.
Only on Friday in Russia, FIFA President, Gianni Infatino, stated that the body only recognises Pinnick, who is the Vice President of CAF and one of the people who played administrative roles at the just-concluded Mundial.
The FIFA boss said: “Pinnick is the President of NFF for FIFA, because he is the one elected. 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.”
We make bold to say that the crisis in the football family is one that could be settled amicably if the parties involved are not greedy and self-centred. There are forthcoming events that are crucial to the respective careers of some young ones and if this crisis persist, FIFA could place a ban on the country.
Ordinarily, football matters are not supposed to go to ordinary courts, except it borders on corruption, but this issue has dragged too long with the game suffering. Going forward, Pinnick, who has just six weeks to finish his term, should be allowed to do so, while interested people should wait to vie for his seat in accordance with the statutes. The ban on Giwa FC should be lifted, while reconciliation meeting should be held to make both parties happy. Giwa seems to be enjoying the backing of government through the minister, but we cannot entirely ignore the laws of FIFA.
We want peace in the football house because the implications of a ban are huge. Falcons have Nations Cup to play later this year, the U-20 Women’s World Cup is near, while the qualifiers for the men’s Nations Cup resumes in September.
Nigerians love football so much because it is a unifying factor in the country and we call all the parties involved in the impasse to come together and embrace peace.
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