Nigerian leader cuts country from world football

Nigerian leader cuts country from world football

Nigerian football was in disarray Wednesday after President Goodluck Jonathan suspended all the country's teams from all international tournaments for two years following the Super Eagles' poor showing at the World Cup in South Africa, DPA reported.

The suspension was announced by presidential spokesman Ima Niboro.

Jonathan also ordered a "reorganisation of the football structure" of the country based on the recommendation of the Presidential Task Force for the 2010 World Cup, which reported "gross misapplication of funds" at South Africa 2010.

This means that the country's female teams will pull out of the FIFA Under-20 and Under-17 World Cups slated for Germany and Trinidad and Tobago in July and August, respectively.

Nigeria will also opt out of the qualifying tournament of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, which kicks off in September with a clash against Madagascar.

"We are yet to be communicated on these decisions," said NFF spokesman Ademola Olajire.

Another top NFF official told German press agency dpa: "We cannot act on what is in the media. We are therefore expecting official communication from the relevant authorities before we make our position known on this."

World football governing body FIFA also said it had not been informed of the matter, but reiterated its view that "in general, FIFA's position regarding political interference in football is well known."

The chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) for the 2010 World Cup, Rotimi Amaechi, berated the administration of football in Nigeria, saying it was behind the country's failure at South Africa 2010.

"We had all sorts of maladministration. We found out that the problem with Nigerian football is structural. The nation has been punished enough. People have had heart attacks because of Nigerian football," said Amaechi.

The Nigerian government has since written to FIFA asking that they be allowed to set up an interim committee as the tenure of the NFF president Sani Lulu and his board has expired.

Nigeria failed to qualify for the knock-out stages of the tournament, finishing last in Group B after defeats to Argentina and Greece and a draw with South Korea. Acrimony within the team was blamed for the poor results.

Nigeria's Vanguard newspaper reported Wednesday that Jonathan had expressed disappointment with the national football team's World Cup performance during a meeting with the country's sports minister, Ibrahim Bio.

The paper quoted the president as saying that the team had not come close to fulfilling expectations despite all of the support it had received.

On Wednesday afternoon, Bio summoned the NFF's president to the sports ministry to discuss the team's showing. The Nigerian newspaper The Sun reported that a parliamentary hearing on the matter was also planned.

In a letter to the NFF last week signed by FIFA's general- secretary, Jerome Valcke, FIFA warned that Nigeria would be sanctioned if FIFA found any government interference in the running of football in the country.

The NFF had complained to FIFA of direct interference by the government.

Meanwhile, in an interview published Wednesday in the Nigerian newspaper The Punch, former national football team member Ike Shorunmu urged a new beginning for the Super Eagles.

"If we don't want the embarrassment of South Africa to repeat itself, we should begin an early preparation of the team and emulate teams like Ghana and Egypt, who have succeeded through home-based players and youth development," Shorunmu was quoted as saying.

"The problem started with the selection for the tournament. There are some players that I think should not have been in the squad but the coach had his game plan and knew why he wanted them.

"During the games, it was very clear the Eagles were not united. They had arguments on the pitch and some of the players refused to pass the ball at crucial moments. They were very unprofessional and that was the main reason Nigeria lost out early."

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