The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has been sanctioned for fielding an ineligible player in the match between Algeria and Nigeria on November 10, 2017. In addition, Nigeria is to pay a fine of 6,000 Swiss Francs (about N2.2million).
FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee yesterday awarded three points and three goals from the November 10 last Group B World Cup 2018 qualifier in Constantine to Algeria. Incidentally, Nigeria only lost one point as the match ended 1-1. Nigeria’s remaining 13 points ensured Super Eagles have nothing to fret about as winners of the group while Algeria moved from two to four points.
The world football ruling body insisted that Abdullahi Shehu was ineligible to play Nigeria’s last World Cup game away to Algeria on November 10, 2017.
Shehu was first booked in Nigeria’s first round qualifier against Swaziland in 2015 before another card in the game against Zambia. The two caution (yellow) cards made it mandatory for the Nigerian defender to miss one game.
“The sanction relates to the player Abdullahi Shehu failing to serve the automatic one-match suspension imposed on him as a result of receiving a caution in two separate matches of the same competition,” observed FIFA.
Traditionally, yellow cards issued in previous rounds of the qualifying race are cancelled going forward, but the principle did not apply for the latest series.
However, in a swift reaction to the sanction from FIFA, a miffed NFF President, Amaju Pinnick directed that an internal inquiry be instituted immediately and persons found culpable be dealt with.
“We accept the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to fine the NFF and award the match to Algeria.
“However, this is a grave error and somebody must be punished. We apologise to Nigerians for this and assure that this will not in any way derail or even distract us in our well-laid plan to ensure that the Super Eagles have a great outing in Russia.
“At the same time, I want to assure that persons responsible for this slip would not be given just a slap on the wrist. We are actually looking at a re-organisation of the Technical Department. The Technical Committee will henceforth play serious superintending role on all details, no matter how minute, in technical matters.
“It is important that all committees and departments at the NFF should move at the same pace as the Executive Committee,” Pinnick concluded.
FIFA had hinted the NFF about the disciplinary proceedings, following the use of Abdullahi Shehu in the match against Zambia in Uyo on October 7.
“Algeria never protested as they too are not aware, but FIFA sent NFF a query to ask why the player played.
“NFF duly responded with proofs that the notice was sent to an email account of a technical staff that was hospitalised with proofs.”
The FIFA disciplinary committee met and decided that since previous emails had always been sent to the same account and were received, the sent notice is valid.
The decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee which sat on the matter read, inter alia: “The Nigeria Football Federation is liable for having breached art.55 par.1 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code and art. 8 of the 2018 Regulations of the FIFA World Cup Russia.”
Indeed, it is a really a bad mistake; but thankfully it hasn’t punctured the hopes of 180 million Nigerians waiting to see their team ruffle feathers at the Russia 2018 World Cup.
As a matter of urgency, NFF needs to reorganise the Technical and Competitions departments to ensure this horrendous mistake never happens again as this mistake is clearly the lack of diligence on their part. Thankfully, the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, has already pledged to ensure such does not happen again.
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