London - Fifa has suspended Nigeria from international competition after the country’s governing body were sacked by the government.
Nigeria qualified for the last 16 of the World Cup after a draw with Iran, a win over Bosnia and a thrilling 3-2 defeat by Argentina. They were then knocked out by France but their campaign was dogged by their second dispute over players’ bonuses in a year.
Ministers accused the Nigeria Football Federation of embarrassing the country by not settling the dispute and issued a court order for the sports minister to appoint a senior civil servant to run the federation.
The government had NFF president Aminu Maigari arrested when his flight from Brazil, via London, touched down in Abuja. According to NFF members, Maigari and some of the executive committee were on the phone trying to salvage their positions. ‘We were seriously worried and were making phone calls when we had a stop over in London,’ one of them told Nigeria’s Daily Post. ‘Both Maigari and barrister Chris Green were trying to get the true picture of what is happening.’
Maigari has since been released.
Last summer the squad called off a strike over bonuses after the country’s sports minister Bolaji Abdullahi intervened, just in time for the Confederations Cup.
At the World Cup, players missed a training session and there were fears they would not take the field against France until David Mark, president of Nigeria’s senate, visited the squad at their base north of Sao Paulo, to mediate.
Players, including Chelsea’s John Mikel Obi and Victor Moses, were promised £5 900 (about 106 000) each for every group stage win, £7 400 for winning in the last 16, £8 900 for winning a quarter-final, £11 800 for the semi-finals and £14 800 if they won the World Cup.
At the time coach Stephen Keshi said: ‘The players may have issues but I think they have been settled amicably so let them allow us to play.’
Fifa forbid influence by politicians and they have given Nigeria until next Tuesday to reinstate the NFF or face exclusion from the Women’s Under 20s World Cup in Canada.
Nigeria were the third African nation to have been dogged by disputes over payments at the World Cup.
Cameroon’s squad refused to get on a plane to Brazil until their bonuses were improved and the Ghana federation flew in cash from home to keep their players happy before the decisive final group game against Portugal.