Nigerian President Bans National Soccer Team From International Competition
While the glory of the 2010 World Cup competition resumes on Friday for the remaining eight nations, the fallout of defeat is emerging from those who made the early trip home. Namely, Nigeria. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has suspended the Nigerian national soccer team from international play for two years as a result of their poor performance in South Africa, as well as other recent failures. Nigeria finished at the bottom of group B, drawing with South Korea and losing to Argentina and Greece. Here is what Nigerian Sports Minister Ibrahim Isa had to say:
“The government has taken a decision we believe is in the interests of Nigeria that we should for now, withdraw from international competition because our football since 1996 seems not to be growing … The president Goodluck Jonathan has endorsed this decision and the Nigerian people are excited about it.
The Nigerian people are excited about having their national team suspended from competition? OK … And one slight potential problem: FIFA regulations prohibit national governments from interfering in the affairs of national football federations. FIFA officials have yet to act but Nigerian lawmakers have already attempted to intervene, passing a resolution calling on President Jonathan to rescind the ban. FIFA is currently reviewing the situation before it takes any action. Nigerian national team member Dickson Etuhu had this to add:
“I’m so shocked at the moment I don’t know what to say or how to react. Obviously there’s a lot of things that aren’t right in Nigerian football, it should be doing a lot better than it is. I don’t think banning us is going to help … For me and the other players, no international football for two years is not something we’ll be happy with because we all love playing for our country. I don’t know how that’s going to go down.”
So if a representative body of lawmakers and a member of the national team are skeptical of the decision, but the President believes that the people of Nigeria support the action, something simply is not adding up. It’s important that FIFA has regulations in place to keep checks on situations like this, as certain realms of international competition inevitably become political. A two-year ban on international competition is wrong and probably not the answer to Nigeria’s soccer problems, and considering the ban’s source, FIFA is going to have to step in and investigate this one.