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Nigeria out for two years

2010-07-01 09:05
Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan. (AP)
Abuja - Nigeria's president has suspended his nation's football team from international competition for two years after a poor showing at the World Cup.

Special presidential adviser Ima Niboro told reporters the decision by Goodluck Jonathan will "enable Nigeria to reorganise its football".
The Nigerian Football Federation is to be dissolved and an interim board appointed, according to sources.

Nigeria were knocked out in the group stages without winning a game.

Niboro 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.

"This directive became necessary following Nigeria's poor performance in the ongoing World Cup."

The president also plans an audit of the country's World Cup organising committee.

"If any financial misappropriation is discovered, all officials responsible will be held accountable," Niboro added.

The NFF released a statement apologising to "all football-loving Nigerians" for the country's early exit from South Africa.

"No previous board has qualified Nigeria for all major tournaments internationally," the statement read, adding that officials wanted Swedish coach Lars Lagerbeck to remain at the helm.

Rotimi Amaechi, head of a special presidential task force on the World Cup campaign, said Nigeria would write to football'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 told reporters.
Under FIFA rules, government interference with national teams is strictly forbidden.

"At the time of writing, we have no official information on this matter," a FIFA statement read.

"However, in general, FIFA’s position regarding political interference in football is well known. Our statutes do not allow for any political interference."

Nigeria risks their national and club teams, plus referees, being banned from all international competitions - and their officials would not be allowed to attend meetings or events.

Nigeria were set to begin their bid to qualify for the 2012 African Nations Cup finals in September against Madagascar.
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