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Nigeria faces ban after government interference in football federation

Orange AFCON, Morocco 2015 Final Round Qualifier: South Africa v Nigeria

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 10: Ogenyi Onazi of Nigeria during the Orange AFCON, Morocco 2015 Final Round Qualifier match between South Africa and Nigeria at Cape Town Stadium on September 10, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Carl Fourie/Gallo Images)

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The tough times for Nigerian football continued this week, as the entire federation (NFF) faces a possible suspension after being sanctioned by FIFA.

Having failed to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations a few weeks ago, FIFA has now sent a warning to the federation after a Nigerian court ruled that former NFF president Amaju Pinnick be replaced by Chris Giwa.

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Under FIFA rules and regulations, the national government is not allowed to interfere with the federation’s decisions.

Below is a section from FIFA’s letter on the matter.

The decision of the Federal High Court in Jos, if implemented, would likely be considered as interference in the internal affairs of the NFF and the case would be brought to the highest authorities of Fifa for consideration of sanctions, including the suspension of the NFF.

All members associations have to manage their affairs independently and with no influence from third parties. In addition and according to article 68 of the Fifa Statutes, recourse to ordinary courts of law is prohibited unless specifically provided for in the Fifa regulations.

Furthermore, it is the duty of each member association to ensure that these provisions are implemented by its members and possibly take sanctions against those which fail to respect these obligations.

This is not the first time Nigeria is under hot-water for government interference in football matters, as the Super Eagles were able to avoid a seven-month ban last summer for a similar incident, also involving Chris Giwa.

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Should FIFA punish the NFF, Nigeria could be banned from playing in the Olympics this summer. With the 2018 World Cup qualifying draw set for June, the Super Eagles could also potentially miss out on their chance to play in Russia.