The Ambassador Chris Giwa-led Nigeria Football Federation board has dismissed in strong terms a possible ban by the World football governing body, FIFA.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the NFF President on media, Victor Iroele, on Friday.
The statement reads: “Today, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, addressed a world press conference at the ongoing World Cup in Russia, where a Nigerian journalist, practically called on FIFA to ban Nigeria in the guise of asking if the world football governing body was aware of developments in Nigeria.
“To say the least, we are scandalised and pained as a Federation that a Nigerian journalist could be in the fore- front of championing FIFA ban of the country. It is also a sad commentary that only in Nigeria can you see some people, with vested and entrenched interests, who have benefitted and still benefitting from football championing the call for the ban of their country.
“We, however, call on Nigerians not to panic about the comment from FIFA President, Gianni Infantino as we have not gone outside the statutes of the Nigeria Football Federation to address the present leadership impasse. The statutes brought us together in football and no single individual can be greater than the country.
“For the avoidance of doubt, FIFA letter dated June 5, 2018 in paragraph three line four states: ‘…recourse to ordinary courts of law is prohibited unless specifically provided for in FIFA regulations and disputes within a member association shall be taken to an independent and duly constituted arbitration tribunal recognised under the rule of the Association, or confederation, or to CAS.’”
Giwa also pointed out that the parties complied with the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the NFF Statutes as approved by FIFA states in Article 1 ( 1): “Nigeria football Federation is a private organisation of an associative nature in compliance with the laws of Nigeria.”
He added: “Both parties had recognised the provision of these statutes above in resolving the present leadership impasse by going to court with Amaju Pinnick benefitting from the Appeal court and addressed the press boasting of even winning at the Supreme Court.
“If FIFA stated that disputes can be resolved by means accepted by the Association, and both parties had subjected themselves to the jurisdiction of Nigerian laws, where did we go wrong or the government, that was joined in the suit, interfere with the crisis?
“In case you are not aware, former NFF President, Amaju Pinnick’s first reaction when the Supreme Court’s judgment was enforced on July 2, 2018 was: “Only CAS can remove me, the Federal Government cannot remove me, so the Minister’s directive is null and void and of no effect.’
“Pinnick and those who share his sentiments should know that where they are today, whether in CAF or FIFA, was because of Nigeria, and any campaign for FIFA to ban Nigeria is a confrontation against the Federal Government and the people of Nigeria.
“The argument about football matters not going to court remains arguable because there are several instances where football matters have gone to court from Jean-Marc Bosman’s case in 1995 that was decided by a European court, to Egypt’s Supreme Court ruling on the Egyptian FA without FIFA raising an eye brow. Lately a Court in Ghana has given the government powers to liquidate the Ghana Football Association.
“These instances buttress the conviction that Nigerians are actually the ones calling FIFA to ban Nigeria, as the world football governing body must have been misinformed of the genesis of the whole crisis in Nigerian football.
“We want to put it on record that should FIFA ban Nigeria, Pinnick and his cohorts should be held responsible because we had taken recourse to the Statutes and the path of the laws of our land, reaching the apex court to get justice, but regrettably, we have Nigerians, who say, Nigerian laws are inferior and should not be obeyed, yet, they went to court, won some and lost some, before realising football matters do not go to court.”