FIFA to keep monitoring Nigeria despite peace deal

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JOHANNESBURG: FIFA will continue monitoring Nigerian football for political interference despite the government backing down on threats to remove its national teams from competition.

FIFA was poised to suspend Nigeria from world football — a move which would also have affected club teams, referees and officials — when a peace agreement was reached on Monday.

FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot said the Nigerian government had reversed a decision "to withdraw all their national teams from playing in the (African confederation) and FIFA competitions for the next two years."

"This is what we were asking," Maingot said. "Of course, as usual in such cases, we will continue to monitor the situation closely."

The dispute began when Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan banned the national teams and ordered a probe into alleged corruption at the football federation after the Super Eagles’ first-round elimination from the World Cup.

Jonathan’s decree breached FIFA rules which forbid governments intervening in football’s affairs.

A FIFA statement noted Monday that "the Nigerian Government also recognizes the currently elected executive of the Nigerian Football Federation."

The federation is scheduled to vote in a new ruling panel at an Aug. 21 meeting in Lagos.

Last weekend, it fired its president and vice president in an effort to convince Jonathan to drop the suspension threat.

The peace deal was reached Monday after FIFA sent one of its own executive committee members, Nigerian official Amos Adamu, to mediate in Abuja.

A government statement said football officials "assured the president of their commitment to evolving an enduring football development program, and grow a new senior national team that will bring glory, rather than consistent embarrassment to Nigeria on the world stage."

Freed of a possible FIFA suspension, Nigeria will now take its place in trying to qualify for the 2012 African Cup of Nations.

It last won the continental championship in 1994 and begins with a home match against Madagascar in early September.

Nigeria can also send its women under-20 players, known as the Falconets, to their World Cup which kicks off next week in Germany.

The Heartland club will begin its African Champions League group-stage program next week at home to Egypt’s Al-Ahly.



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