Less than 24-hours after an emergency committee of FIFA placed a suspension on Nigeria due to an alleged government interference in the administration of Nigerian football, the country’s Under-20 women side, the Falconets, may have become the first victims of the ban.
According to latest reports, the world football governing body has stopped the Falconets on their proposed 24-day camping tour of Canada ahead of the upcoming 2014 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup holding in Canada in August.
It was gathered that the nation’s campaigners were scheduled to depart the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Monday aboard Lufthansa Airline to Frankfurt enroute Moncton, Canada but that was not to be as the team returned to their camp on flimsy flight hitch.
However, the team returned to the airport on Tuesday to embark on the tour but were told in no uncertain term that their tickets have been cancelled on the order of FIFA.
As at Wednesday’s night, it was gathered that the Nigerian team are still in their hotel in Abuja with strict instruction from the new helmsmen at the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, for them to train within the hotel premise until otherwise directed.
Analysts believe the move by the NFF was to deny the media and the public from gaining access into the team’s camp.
Supersport.com reports that the plight of the Falconets is connected with the FIFA ban following the sacking of the elected NFF board by a court in Jos, Plateau State.
“The cancellation of the Falconets’ trip to Canada in preparation of Fifa organised competition is the strongest indication that FIFA ban is already in force and the Falconets happened to be the first casualties.
“The new helmsmen at NFF understood quite clearly while the tour was cancelled by no other person than FIFA because the event in question is theirs.
“They’re keeping the ugly development to themselves hoping that the situation will change to allow the team proceed to the training tour of Canada.
“The impression created to the public is that the team left Abuja on Monday to Frankfurt where they will connect flight to Moncton, Canada but as we speak (Wednesday) the team are in their hotel anxiously waiting for further direction.
“They’re sternly warned to keep off from public view, avoid the stadium but train within the hotel compound.
“Fear is being expressed that if quick resolution of the impasse was not found the team may miss the World Cup which starts next month,” a source told supersport.com.
The Falconets, who were semifinalists in the past edition in Japan, will open their Group C title account on 6 August against Mexico while Korea Republic and England take their turn on 9 August and 13 August respectively.
Nigeria has featured in all the past editions of the biennial global football showpiece.
According to FIFA statement, the suspension on Nigeria comes as a result of the violation of “Article 13, par. 1 and article 17, par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes which oblige member associations to manage their affairs independently and with no influence from third parties.”
The statement also stated that “no team from Nigeria of any sort (including clubs) can have any international sporting contact (art. 14 par. 3 of the FIFA Statutes). During the period of suspension, the NFF may not be represented in any regional, continental or international competitions, including at club level, or in friendly matches.”
The suspension therefore jeopardises Nigeria’s participation at the upcoming FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in Canada, as Maigari and the NFF executive must be reinstated and the court injunction withdrawn before July 15 or the Falconets would be thrown out of the tournament holding kicking off on August 5.
As at the time of compiling this report, neither the NFF nor the Nigerian sports ministry has released a statement concerning the FIFA ban and the way forward.