CAPE TOWN, Sept 9, (RTRS): Nigeria have had the threat of a suspension from world football lifted after the country’s football federation (NFF) returned to office at the start of the week, FIFA said on Tuesday. The African champions had been given until Monday morning for a rival faction to relinquish control of the NFF and for its beleaguered president Aminu Maigari and his staff to be allowed back to their posts after having seen off two attempted bids to sweep them from office over the last months. FIFA, in a letter to the NFF released to the media, said it accepted matters had returned to normal and would not be punishing the country.
It will come as an enormous relief to Nigeria, who have an African Nations Cup qualifier against South Africa in Cape Town on Wednesday. Had they been suspended on Monday, Nigeria would have forfeited the match and been disqualified, leaving them unable to defend their Nations Cup crown. FIFA had set the ultimatum last week after Maigari was voted out of office in an unauthorised election that divided the Nigerian football community and was not recognised by FIFA.
“We noted the return to normalcy in the Nigerian Football Federation and compliance with conditions prescribed by the Emergency Committee of FIFA. The NFF is accordingly not suspended,” said the letter signed by FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke. “This return to normality, as indicated in the correspondence from the President of the Nigerian federation to FIFA in a letter on September 8, has been noted together with the reinstatement and return to work, without hindrance, at the association headquarters in Abuja of the NFF president and staff.”
FIFA, however, have called for new elections and warned that “should the electoral process be affected by any interference or occurrence or any mishap, the case would be referred again — and without prior notice or warning — to the appropriate FIFA bodies for immediate suspension of the NFF until the next FIFA Congress.”