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NFF’s unending crisis, doomsday for Nigeria Professional Football League

The protracted crisis that has bedeviled Nigeria’s apex football ruling body, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), no doubt has had many unfavourable ripple effects on the football in Nigeria.

Besides, the general administration which has been halted, other affiliates of the football clouts are not left of the imbroglio that has brought football actions almost to a halt.

This has been reflected in the suspension of the apex and lower league, the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) and Nigeria National League (NNL) respectively.

The resumption for the two main leagues has been put on hold for close to four weeks now running because of the instability in the Glass House which serves as the mother hen for the league.

The genesis of the fight for the control of NFF had started when Chris Giwa approached the Federal High Court, Jos Plateau State, seeking a court order to get his mandate to be the president of NFF.

Giwa has alluded that the election that got the incumbent embattled NFF President Amaju Pinnick was not meant to be; rather he is the duly elected president to run the affairs of football in Nigeria.

With the present situation, both Pinnick and Giwa are laying claim to the NFF presidency, a situation that has brought to halt some football-related activities in Nigeria.

The seemingly unending leadership crisis of the NFF, however, took a new turn on July 2, when the Chris Giwa faction took over the Glass House Secretariat of the NFF, citing a court judgment.

The Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung had earlier ordered that the NFF should comply with the Supreme Court judgment that overturned the Sept. 30, 2014 election that brought Amaju Pinnick to power.

The court also ordered that the status quo be maintained at the Glass House.

Dalung said the directive followed a written notification by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice requesting the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports to ensure compliance.

However, Giwa said his assumption of office was in line with the ruling of the court on June 5, 2018.

He claimed that the court had annulled the parallel election held in Warri by Pinnick and subsequently upheld his election as the substantive president.

In another twist of event, the world football governing body, FIFA, gave Nigeria until Aug. 20 to resolve the impasse in the football federation or risk being banned.

FIFA had in a statement on Tuesday addressed the issue stating that if by Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, if the NFF offices are not handed back to the legitimate NFF Executive Committee under Pinnick, recognised by it there would be sanction.

FIFA claimed that Pinnick was duly elected on Sept. 30, 2014, and threatened that the NFF will be suspended with immediate effect for contravening art. 14 par. 1 (i) and art. 19, as well as art. 14 par. 1 a) of the FIFA Statutes.

It also went ahead to explain that should Nigeria fail to comply, the Falconets currently participating in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France will not be affected as the competition is already underway.

The statement said: “In line with art. 16 par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes, the Bureau of the FIFA Council decided that if by Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, at 12:00 (CET), NFF offices are not handed back to the legitimate NFF executive committee which is under President Amaju Melvin Pinnick, who was duly elected on 30 September 2014, the NFF will be suspended with immediate effect for contravening art. 14 par. 1 (i) and art. 19, as well as art. 14 par. (1 a) of the FIFA Statutes.

“The suspension will be lifted only once the NFF, under Pinnick and General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, confirms that it has been given back effective control of the NFF and its offices.

“Furthermore, the Bureau decided that if the suspension of the NFF takes effect, the Nigerian team currently competing in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, France 2018, will still be allowed to continue to participate in the tournament on an exceptional basis given that the tournament is underway.’’

However, football pundits have continued to speak on the undeserving conflicts in the Glass House.

Many have wondered why the two gladiators laying claim to the seat would not want sheath their swords in the interest of the game loved by many.

The President of the Leagues Bloggers, George Akpayen, said that the suspension of the league had left a sour taste in the mouth of most of the stakeholders.

“The current state of football is a bad and unpleasant circumstance in the annals of Nigeria’s football. For me, it is detrimental not just to the league but the Nigerian football.

“The players, the coaches and everyone who loves football are the worst hit. For instance, it has shown that the two gladiators did not really appreciate football.

“When we look at it critically, it does not speak well for the sponsorships of the league because of the distortion in the league’s calendar which has to run.

“It is not also good for the marketing of the league. And what about venue activation? In advanced league, they strictly follow their calendar because it is like bible to them,’’ he said.

Akpayen said that some of the high-profile players in the league had been leaving the country because of its protracted suspension.

“Until we realise that the league should be the hub of our football and not the national teams, we will be getting it wrong.

“Our league should be given back to us because the crisis has injured the league, in the last two weeks some of our high-profile players have been leaving for abroad.

“Some of them are on trials abroad, while some have succeeded in their trials; I am not saying it is bad after all, but how do we improve the standard of the league?

“Mass exodus of players from our league will not help us to grow, most of these players are even going to some North African countries which by standard did not measure up to ours,’’ he said.

The former Media Officer, Osun United FC of Osogbo, Tunde Shamsudeen, said that the long break of the league has impacted negatively on the welfare of players.

“The players are now redundant, no work for them, this is not good enough. There will be a meeting of the league stakeholders as regards this on Thursday,’’ he said.

Former ace midfielder, Mutiu Adepoju, said that the parties in the crises knew how to resolve the crisis.

“I don’t think both parties don’t know what to do and I don’t have any advice to give them. Everybody knows what is obtainable.

“I know that Pinnick is the one recognised by the FIFA and I don’t want to say more than that,’’ Adepoju, a former Super Eagles player said. (NAN)

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