Dapo Sotuminu, Lagos
A renowned football stakeholder in Nigeri has declared that, the world football ruling body would not invoke its Statutes if there was no interference in the running of football in Nigeria.
The stakeholder who prefers anonymity stated that it was wrong for anyone to say that Nigerians in Russia are the ones asking FIFA to ban the country’s football federation. “Its strange really, especially as this is coming from someone that took over the NFF secretariat with the police when NFF members were away from the country for the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia. It’s a shame.”
Our source noted that, nobody wants Nigeria banned but those that ticklishly took over the NFF secretariat in high level government interference are the culprits.
“The position of football laws has not changed and it has always been that football matters don’t go to ordinary courts. All football stakeholders are aware of this and it is those who head to the ordinary courts knowing the above that put Nigeria at risk of a ban from FIFA not the Amaju Pinnick-led board, so saying that some persons are the ones asking FIFA to ban Nigeria is misleading and untrue.”
The source stressed that in the wake of the football crisis in Egypt in 2016, Marco Villiger, FIFA Deputy Secretary General and Director, Legal Affairs Division, signed a letter to the Egyptian FA in April on matters of the EFA elections taken to court. He reminded all parties citing FIFA Article 13: “All member associations must manage their affairs independently. And Article 68 Para 2 of the FIFA Statutes stipulates that recourse to ordinary courts of law is prohibited unless specifically provided for in the FIFA regulations. And each member association must make sure that its members abide by these paragraph and possibly take sanctions against those that fail to do so.”
The last paragraph of the FIFA letter to Egypt stated that, “If the court decision is implemented would most likely be considered as breach of the internal affairs of the EFA and the case would be brought to the highest authority of FIFA for consideration of sanctions, including the suspension of the EFA.
He added that on July 7, 2017, FIFA suspended the Sudan Football Association due to government interference, leading to three of the country’s clubs being thrown out of African competitions. Two of the clubs Al Hilal Omdurman and Al Merreikh were disqualified from the African Champions League hours before they were due to play. The third Al Hilal Obeid was thrown out of the CAF Confederation Cup. Sudan remained suspended until a decision by the Ministry of Justice to remove the SFA president and the rest of the association’s board of directors was rescinded, FIFA said.
“On December 15, 2017, Spain’s participation at the 2018 World Cup in Russia was under threat after FIFA raised concerns about political interference within the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). FIFA warned the RFEF that the Spanish government’s involvement in the election for the football federation’s new president could lead to them being expelled from the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
“RFEF interim leader, Juan Luis Larrea, who took over after former president Angel Maria Villar was forced to step down on corruption charges, confirmed FIFA’s letter to RFEF showing its concern with the situation the federation was in and reminded them that, all member associations should manage their affairs independently. All associations must be assured that there is no outside interference from third parties in its internal affairs.
“In a prompt response, the RFEF leader met FIFA members at the World Cup draw on December 1, 2017, with the aim of resolving the problem and the country was bent on allowing the national team to participate in the 2018 World Cup.
“Spain captain, Sergio Ramos, said in Abu Dhabi ahead of the World Club Cup that: “I cannot believe that Spain could lose what we have worked so hard for on the pitch due to an institutional dispute, I struggle to believe that.”
Our source stated that, the country’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, told reporters after a meeting of the European Union in Brussels that he was not concerned by the suggestion his country would be barred from competing in the World Cup. For him he is absolutely convinced Spain will go to the World Cup. He went back home and gave his support to those originally in charge of the RFEF.
“In 2015 Indonesia were banned from competing in qualifiers for the 2016 FIFA World Cup after FIFA said the central government had taken over its federation’s affairs,” so FIFA Laws on government interference has not changed and it cannot be influenced by anybody, those who took over the NFF secretariat in a commando style should search themselves, our source concluded.