Nigeria’s Football Federation was voted out of office on Saturday in an apparent Coup d’état that is unlikely to be recognized by FIFA. A hastily arranged Assembly took the action of voting in a new board. At issue is the perceived failure of Nigeria’s World Cup campaign and the failure of the Federation to meet its commitments to players. However, given the internal strife in the nation and general poor performance of African sides in this World Cup, Nigeria’s advancement to the knockout stages should be commended.
Following Nigeria’s 2-0 Round of 16 defeat to France, a high court ordered the dismissal of the Nigerian football federation executive committee. This order included the removal of President Aminu Maigari.
The court had appointed in Maigari’s place a caretaker who ordered elections be held on Saturday. FIFA has, for years, made it clear that they do not tolerate domestic political interference in the matters of member federations. FIFA has said that if the leadership of the Federation were not restored by Tuesday that the nation could face suspension from the international game.
Maigari was detained by police upon his arrival back into the country from Brazil on Friday. Like many African Federations, the Nigerian one has had controversies related to payments of players. In fact, before the Round of 16 game against France, several players threatened to strike but were reassured by the nation’s President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Assembly issued a statement Saturday after the action that read:
“The congress bemoaned the unfortunate incident of the international embarrassment caused by failure of the Aminu Maigari-led NFF to fully and firmly resolve issues of finance with the Super Eagles ahead of the championship.”
The action terminated the entire management staff of the federation as well. FIFA has made it clear particularly in the case of African nations that they do not want Government interference in the process of governing national federations.
Ultimately FIFA has the power to suspend Nigeria from international soccer, and as the world governing body of the sport has demonstrated in the past, they are more than willing to use this power.