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Nigeria leader bans team after World Cup fiasco

Sports Desk |
Update: 2010-06-30 14:15:22

Abuja: Nigerian football was in disarray Wednesday after President Goodluck Jonathan suspended the national team from all international tournaments for two years following the Super Eagles` poor performance at the World Cup in South Africa.

Nigeria was knocked out in the group stages without winning a game.

Presidential spokesman Ima Niboro announced the suspension. Jonathan also ordered the dissolution of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

"This directive became necessary following Nigeria`s poor performance in the ongoing World Cup," said NFF spokesman Ademola Olajire

`We are yet to be communicated on these decisions,` Olajire added.

Another top NFF official told DPA: `We cannot act on what is in the media. We are therefore expecting official communication from the relevant authorities before we make our position known on this.`

World football governing body FIFA also said it had not been informed of the matter, but reiterated its view that `in general, FIFA`s position regarding political interference in football is well known`.

‘People had heart attacks because of Nigerian football’

Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) for the 2010 World Cup, Rotimi Amaechi, berated the administration of football in Nigeria, saying it was behind the country`s failure at South Africa 2010.

`We had all sorts of misadministration. We found out that the problem with Nigerian football is structural. The nation has been punished enough. People have had heart attacks because of Nigerian football,` said Amaechi.

Nigeria failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament, finishing last in Group B after defeats to Argentina and Greece and a draw with South Korea. Acrimony within the team was blamed for the poor results.

Nigeria`s Vanguard newspaper reported Wednesday that Jonathan had expressed disappointment with the national football team`s World Cup performance during a meeting with the country`s sports minister, Ibrahim Bio.

NFF apology to “all football-loving Nigerians”
The president also plans an audit of the country`s World Cup organising committee.

"If any financial misappropriation is discovered, all officials responsible will be held accountable," Niboro added.

The NFF released a statement apologising to "all football-loving Nigerians" for the country`s early exit from South Africa.

"No previous board has qualified Nigeria for all major tournaments internationally," the statement read, adding that officials wanted Swedish coach Lars Lagerbeck to remain at the helm.

Rotimi Amaechi, head of a special presidential task force on the World Cup campaign, said Nigeria would write to football`s world governing body Fifa to explain its decision.

"We went to the World Cup and found all sorts of problems and we felt we should sit back and look inward," Amaechi told reporters.

Under Fifa rules, government interference with national teams is strictly forbidden.
"At the time of writing, we have no official information on this matter," a Fifa statement read.

"However, in general, Fifa`s position regarding political interference in football is well known. Our statutes do not allow for any political interference."

Nigeria`s risks their national and club teams, plus referees, being banned from all international competitions - and their officials would not be allowed to attend meetings or events.

Nigeria were set to begin their bid to qualify for the 2012 African Nations Cup finals in September against Madagascar.

BDST: 0939hrs, July 01, 2010

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