World Cup: FIFA sanctions Nigeria for fielding ineligible player

Shehu Abdullahi

World football governing body, FIFA, has sanctioned Nigeria for using an ineligible player in a World Cup qualifier away at Algeria.

Already through to the Mundial, the three-time African champions scooped a 1-1 stalemate in Constantine against the Desert Foxes in November.

But all three points have been awarded to the North Africans after the apex body realised the Eagles fielded Shehu Abdullahi who was supposed to be suspended.

Shehu had garnered two yellow cards from games against Swaziland and Zambia in Uyo.

Traditionally, cautions issued in previous rounds of the qualifying race are cancelled going forward, but the principle did not apply to the latest series.

However, the sanction does not in any way hurt Nigeria’s qualification for next year’s showpiece even after all three points were awarded to Algeria.

Aside from the point deduction, the country was fined the sum of 6,000 Swiss Francs (N2,176,891).

The decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee which sat on the matter read, inter alia: “The Nigeria Football Federation is liable for having breached art.55 par.1 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code and art. 8 of the 2018 Regulations of the FIFA World Cup Russia.

“The match played within the frame of the preliminary competition of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia between Algeria and Nigeria on 10 November 2017 is declared to be lost by forfeit by Nigeria (3-0).”

Reacting to the news, an angry NFF boss, Amaju Pinnick, has sworn to take serious action against the culprit.

“We accept the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to fine the NFF and award the match to Algeria,” he revealed.

“However, this is a grave error and somebody must be punished. We apologise to Nigerians for this and assure that this will not in any way derail or even distract us from our well-laid plan to ensure that the Super Eagles have a great outing in Russia.

“At the same time, I want to assure that persons responsible for this slip would not be given just a slap on the wrist.

“We are actually looking at a re-organization of the Technical Department. The Technical Committee will henceforth play a serious superintending role on all details, no matter how minute, in technical matters.

“It is important that all committees and departments at the NFF should move at the same pace as the Executive Committee.”