FIFA ban: Golden Eaglets still training in Calabar ahead of DR Congo match

  • Sports Ministry appeals for calm

The Golden Eaglets are still training in Calabar ahead of their July 20 fixture against Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa.

FIFAThe team has been preparing for their second round first leg match in the qualifiers for the African Under-17 Championship, and had just returned from playing friendlies in Egypt.

However, the July 9 decision by FIFA’s Emergency Committee to suspend the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) with immediate effect appears to have derailed their plans.

The FIFA decision, which it said was on account of alleged government interference, means no team or club from Nigeria can have any international sporting contact during the period of suspension.

The Eaglets’ Media Officer, Morankinyo Abodunrin, said he was not in a position to say how the team would cope in the interim with the development.

But he said “the team is still training in Calabar, pending further directions from the NFF.”

The national under-17 male football team had on Sunday beat hosts Egypt 4-2 defeat in an international friendly match at the Police Sports Stadium in Cairo.

Meanwhile, the National Sports Commission (NSC) on Thursday in Abuja called on Nigerians to remain calm regarding FIFA’s suspension of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

A statement by Taiye Akinyemi, the Chief Press Secretary to Tammy Danagogo, the Sports Minister, said efforts were being made to ensure the suspension was lifted as soon as possible.

The world football governing body had on Wednesday suspended the NFF with immediate effect due to what it called “government interference’’.

The suspension means no football team or club from Nigeria can have any international sporting contact.

Also, the NFF will not be represented in any regional, continental or international competitions, including at club level, or in friendly matches.

“The NSC has received the news of NFF’s suspension by FIFA on the grounds of an alleged court order which FIFA interpreted as government interference in the affairs of the football house.

“The NSC wishes to state that the said court action brought against the NFF followed an internal crisis within the football family and has nothing to do with government.

“While FIFA has stated that the suspension will not be lifted unless the court action is withdrawn, we are stating that neither the NSC nor government is involved in the court process.

“The NFF suspension is a procedural practice by FIFA each time it feels that there is an alleged interference by government, be it through its executive or judiciary arm, in the affairs of its affiliate bodies.

“We therefore, call on Nigerians to remain calm as efforts are being made to ensure that the suspension is lifted as soon as possible.

“Appropriate representation has been made to FIFA to present the true situation of the crisis within the football family,” the statement said.

It will be recalled that Justice L.P. Lot of a High court sitting in Jos, Plateau State on July 2 in Jos had granted an order of interlocutory injunction restraining some NFF members from running Nigeria’s football affairs forthwith.

The members included the then NFA Chairman, Aminu Maigari, as well as the association’s board members, and the NFA Congress.

Acting on the court’s directive on July 3, Danagogo who is also the NSC Chairman appointed Lawrence Katken, the most senior civil servant in the NFA, as the Acting Secretary-General.

This was done pending the determination of the suit.

However, Katken called for an Extra-Ordinary Congress of the NFA on July 5 in Abuja, which eventually dissolved the Maigari-led-board for abuse of the football body’s statutes.