Nigerian ban ready to be dropped

Court actions against Nigerian Football Federation officials which led FIFA to ban the country from international matches are to be dropped, according to the acting head of the federation.

Musa Amadu told The Associated Press on Thursday that the National Association of Nigerian Footballers had agreed informally to drop a lawsuit against the NFF that led a federal judge to annul a recent federation election.

Amadu said the footballers’ association gave its word it would ask the judge to dismiss the case and that would go a long way to satisfy FIFA, which suspended Nigeria’s federation on Monday for government interference.

However, the moves won’t come in time to prevent Nigeria’s African Cup of Nations qualifier against Guinea from being postponed, according to Amadu.

"Obviously, there’s still a ban on Nigeria and because of that, it looks like the game on Sunday will be suspended," he said.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 25, making that the earliest the case can be dismissed and fulfill FIFA’s requirements, Amadu said.

As the west African nation scrambles to appease FIFA, Amadu has also been reinstated as acting general secretary of the NFF after he was forced to step down on the instructions of the government-run National Sports Commission – another reason given by football’s world body for the ban.

In its decision Monday, FIFA said it suspended Nigeria from competition because of the court actions against NFF officials, because the federation’s head stood down on orders from the government-run National Sports Commission, and because the sports minister started the Nigerian Premier League without relegation from the previous season.

FIFA rules prohibit government interference with national football governing bodies.

FIFA threatened Nigeria’s federation with a similar ban in July when the country’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, said he would pull the national team out of competition because of its poor showing at the World Cup in South Africa.

Jonathan eventually backed down following an ultimatum from FIFA, but the world body said it would continue monitoring the country for possible interference.

After the World Cup, four former high-ranking officials of Nigeria’s federation were charged with corruption after allegations they embezzled money from the team’s tournament funds in South Africa.

Amadu said once the federation could reform its leadership, it would begin looking at implementing financial and other controls to ensure it doesn’t lose the faith of the country again.

"I think the process to regain that trust is already ongoing," he said.