RIO DE JANEIRO — The Nigerian soccer team was without one of its biggest allies Monday when its support group was prohibited from bringing instruments, mostly drums and trumpets, into Arena da Baixada in Curitiba for the game against Iran.
The contest was an uninspiring 0-0 draw that many declared the worst match of the tournament so far.
The Nigerian fan base is one of the more colorful in the tournament and its exuberance has been lauded by Nigerian players in the past.
Rafiu Ladipo, president of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club, said he sent FIFA a strongly-worded letter questioning the governing body’s decision to keep instruments out of the stadium.
"This is unacceptable," Ladipo told KickOffNigeria.com. "The Nigeria supporters club has attended every FIFA World Cup since 1994, except 2006 when we didn't qualify, and we have always gone there with our instruments.
"We cannot understand why we were prevented from taking them in this time. And we are going to make an official complaint to FIFA."
Ladipo’s complaint has merit.
According to FIFA’s official list of prohibited items, only “mechanically-operated instruments which produce an excessive volume of noise such as megaphones, hooters or gas-powered horns, including vuvuzelas” are banned from stadiums there is no mention of drums, trumpets or any of the everyday instruments Nigerian fans were attempting to bring into the stadium.
And Ladipo noted to KickOffNigeria.com that other fan bases had been allowed to use instruments during games.
"We saw Brazilian supporters with musical instruments, and we also saw some other countries too,” Ladipo said. "Is there double standards? We want to know."
Nigerian soccer message boards — yes, those exist — complained that there was a double standard for Nigerians because of the actions of Boko Haram, a terrorist group in Nigeria, which was responsible for the bombing of a viewing party for Monday's match that killed 14. Fans complained that because of the actions of Boko Haram, all Nigerians were being stereotyped as possible terrorists and therefore security was tighter against them.
FIFA has yet to respond to Ladipo’s complaint, but the Nigeria Football Supporters Club plans to bring its instruments to Saturday’s game against Bosnia-Herzegovina at Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá in hopes of inspiring their team to their first victory of this World Cup.