Fri, Jul 02, 2010 - Page 20 News List

2010 FIFA WORLD CUP: Nigerian president bans team after poor World Cup


Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday banned the country’s soccer team from international competition for two years following their poor showing at the World Cup, his office said.

“President Goodluck Jonathan has directed that Nigeria withdraws from international competition for two years to enable the country to put its house in order,” spokesman Ima Niboro said after a weekly Cabinet meeting.

Nigeria finished bottom of group in South Africa with just one point from three matches after they lost to Argentina and Greece and drew with South Korea.

Rotimi Amaechi, governor of a key oil-producing state, Rivers, who heads a special presidential task force on the World Cup campaign which includes football association officials and former players such as John Fashanu, said Nigeria would write to soccer’s world governing body FIFA to explain its decision.

“We went to the World Cup and found all sorts of problems and we felt we should sit back and look inward,” Amaechi said.

Jonathan also ordered an audit into how the funds allocated for the team at the World Cup were used.

The decision will put Nigeria on a collision course with FIFA, which takes a dim view of any political interference in the independent running of national federations.

“We have not received any official information on this subject. However, in general, the position of FIFA concerning political interference is well known,” a statement released in Johannesburg said.

FIFA has already voiced its opposition to French government involvement as the fall-out from the 1998 champions’ first round exit continues.

Raymond Domenech’s squad crashed out of the tournament after losing 2-1 to South Africa bringing the curtain down on a dreadful campaign that saw a players’ strike, insults hurled at the coach and a volley of criticism from politicians.

On Wednesday, French lawmakers summoned Domenech and ex-French Football Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes to address a hearing of a parliamentary commission into France’s World Cup debacle.

After the hearing, Domenech and Espalettes left the National Assembly through a side door, carefully avoiding reporters.

Lawmakers said Domenech blamed L’Equipe newspaper, which printed details of Anelka’s tirade, for the disarray.

Domenech also said the paper misquoted the player.

Lawmaker Lionel Tardy, reporting on the closed-door hearing live on Twitter, quoted Escalettes as voicing his “shame” at the “rotten, spoiled brats” on the French team.

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