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NIGERIA

Nigeria avoids Fifa ban

Nigeria avoids Fifa ban

Michael Boholzer

AFP

After a stressful week, the West African country acknowledged the Fifa-approved Amaju Pinnick as the sole head of its FA.

Nigeria managed to avoid an international ban after acknowledging the Fifa-approved head of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Monday.

World football's governing body had said it would suspend Nigeria at 11:00 GMT if the country failed to vacate the offices of its football association (FA) and acknowledge Amaju Pinnick as its president.

Hours before Fifa was due to ban Nigeria from international matches, Laolu Akande, the media aide to vice-president Yemi Osinbajo, confirmed the acknowledgement of Pinnick.

"The FG has already conveyed to FIFA its firm position recognizing Amaju Pinnick-led NFF as the current & only NFF Exco. Govt will also continue to work with all relevant stakeholders involved to resolve dispute in a timely manner. FG is upholding NFF treaty obligations to FIFA," he wrote on his Twitter account.

Suspension suspended

In a media release on Monday, Fifa announced that it had received official confirmation that the legitimate leadership of the NFF had been given back effective control of the FA and its offices.

"In view of these circumstances, FIFA deems that the conditions set by the decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council have now been met and consequently the suspension of the NFF will not take effect,’ the governing body stated.

"FIFA will continue to closely monitor the situation in order to ensure that FIFA’s rules and regulations are fully adhered to."

Leadership crisis in the NFF

Back in 2014, the NFF voted in its Fifa-recognised leadership team under Pinnick. However, his long-standing rival Chris Giwa appealed against this result and proceeded to seize control of the FA's headquarters. He was backed by Nigerian sports minister Solomon Dalung.

According to Giwa, Pinnick's election took place in contravention of laid-down regulations, which is why he has put up a legal challenge against the Fifa-recognised NFF president, whose term is due to end in September.

On Friday, Fifa had turned down a proposed visit by a Nigerian delegation led by Dalung to discuss the problems in the country’s FA.

The request was denied as the governing body’s president, Gianni Infantino, was indisposed during the proposed period.

Early on Monday, armed security agents were posted outside the NFF's offices in Abuja, preventing anyone from entering.

Pinnick is expected to reoccupy the NFF headquarters in the following days.

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