Sunday, August 19, 2018 8:00PM / Proshare WebTV
The Recent events surrounding Nigeria’s Football Federation has brought to the fore the challenge of governance, and adherence to precepts and principles especially when it has to do with a global body.
Since its establishment in 1904, FIFA with over 100 countries as members have laws governing the game of football, driven by the International Football Association Board (IFAB).
One area FIFA takes an active role in is ensuring the smooth running of the football sport and developing the game around the world.
It takes dire steps like sanctions and the suspension of Football Associations in countries where the government, interferes in the affairs of its associate member.
Cameroon is an example of a country,that got the sledge hammer of FIFA when the government interfered in the affairs of its federation (FECAFOOT).
FIFA banned Cameroon in July, 2013 for the alleged interference of the government in the country’s football association.
Nigeria one of the Africa’s leading light in the game of football faces a challenge of a FIFA ban, over the perceived government incursion in the activities of the football federation (NFF).
In this article, we look at the issues, position of FIFA, correspondence between the Ministry of Sports and FIFA, Key takeaways and Implications for governance of the game in Nigeria.
Few weeks after the FIFA 2018 World Cup tournament closed in Russia, the Nigerian Football space was challenged with a decision by the Supreme Court of the nation, declaring that Mr Chris Giwa a factional leader of the NFF as the recognized President.
This caused disaffection in the football community, with reactions from the FIFA recognized leadership of Mr Amaju Pinnick, who through his lawyer Mr Festus Keyamo, SAN raised a major concern that there will be dire consequences, from the decision of the apex court.
It came with the dynamics of power play as Mr Chris Giwa resumed office at the NFF glasshouse in Abuja.
The action reinstating Giwa by the Supreme Court, was supported by the Minister of Sport Mr Solomon Dalung, which drew criticisms.
FIFA President Mr Gianni Infantino issued a statement from Zurich, Switzerland warning that the incidence of government’s intervention in the affairs of the National Football Association, could attract suspension if the necessary steps to avert it is not taken.
In what can be described by a swift action by the Presidency, through the Attorney General of the Federation, Amaju Pinnick led NFF faction was recognized and the Giwa was ordered out of the glass house.
This did not stop the drama in the corridors of power and a dramatic episode ensued courtesy an interesting exchange of letter or correspondence, between FIFA and the Ministry of Sports.
Even with the knowledge that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had communicated through the Attorney General the decision to abide by the FIFA position, thereby acknowledging Mr Amaju Pinnick as the NFF President, the Minister of Sports sent a letter to FIFA requesting for a meeting with the leadership, to find ways to resolve the ongoing crisis.
In the committee set up by the Minister was Mr Amaju Pinnick (recognized President of NFF) and Mr Chris Giwa(faction leader), who FIFA had clearly stated is not recognized by the Football Governing Body.
Responding to the Letter, FIFA pointed out that it had a busy schedule in August, to meet with the Minister and his delegation, but highlighted the following issues;
Another Proactive Step of the Presidency
Today was the Decision day from FIFA and the Presidency took a proactive step again by writing to FIFA that it recognizes Mr Amaju Melvin Pinnick as the President of the NFF.
FIFA Decision, No Suspension of Nigeria
At the end of the FIFA meeting by 12.00pm(CET) a decision was reached which reads thus “Following the decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council of 13 August 2018 concerning the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), FIFA received confirmations that the legitimate leadership of the NFF under President Amaju Melvin Pinnick and General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi has been given back effective control of the NFF and its offices.
“In view of these circumstances, FIFA deems that the conditions set by the decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council have now been met and consequently the suspension of the NFF will not take effect. FIFA will continue to closely monitor the situation in order to ensure that FIFA’s rules and regulations are fully adhered to”.
The analysis is that FIFA has not suspended Nigeria thanks to the timely intervention of the Federal Government.
Implications for Governance
The implications for governance is that going forward the Ministry of Sports should avoid the incidence of undue interference in the affairs of the Nigerian Football Federation.
This is critical to forestalling any future crisis in the nation’s sport that has been a strong uniting factor.