FIFA to keep an eye on political interference in Nigeria

Last Updated : 06 July 2010, 16:41 IST

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Soccer's ruling body on Monday lifted a threat to suspend Nigeria from all FIFA-related activities, including an annual grant of $250,000, after President Goodluck Jonathan reversed a ban on the national team participating in international competitions as punishment for its poor World Cup performance.

The president's decision, which narrowly beat a FIFA deadline, came after the federation pledged to disband the side and rebuild it following the Super Eagles' failure to win a game during their first-round elimination from the World Cup. FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot told a news briefing on Tuesday that Nigeria had done what was required to have the suspension threat lifted.

“But, of course, as usual in such cases, we are monitoring the situation and we will continue to monitor the situation,” he said.

“You always have to avoid political interference... it is not that we are simply sending a letter. The work goes further than that,” he added.

Jonathan's action responded to widespread discontent in Nigeria with the team's dismal performance, but FIFA is vehemently opposed to any political interference and has suspended federations in the past over the same issue.

The Nigerian presidency said on Monday that Jonathan reversed his decision after the federation agreed to disband the team and after appeals from Nigerians including former leaders.

Facebook trick

Jonathan said on Tuesday that hundreds of posts on his Facebook page had helped persuade him to reverse his suspension of the national team.

“To Suleiman Musa, Nwanze Francis Uchenna and Ifade Udunayo Peter and the hundreds of Nigerians who appealed to me on this page, I have listened to your voices and those of others,” Jonathan said.

“We must now work together to make sure that the Nigerian Football Federation and our players do us proud in future events,” he wrote on the social networking site.

Published 06 July 2010, 16:41 IST

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