Nigeria bows to FIFA, still disbands team

Brooks Peck

I hope they all signed each other's yearbooks.

Monday was deadline day for Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan to lift his two-year ban from competition on Nigeria's national team before facing the much harsher and more terrifying FIFA ban hammer for meddling in football affairs. And although Jonathan dragged his feet as much as he could, he ultimately relented to FIFA's threats of withholding World Cup prize money and being pulled from next year's women's World Cup by lifting his ban. But he did get the drastic change he desired in the form of the scared-straight Nigeria Football Federation disbanding the national team that brought about this whole mess by underachieving in the World Cup.

From Reuters:

The presidency said Jonathan had reversed his decision after a meeting with the NFF at which the federation told him of their decision to disband the team.

“They 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,” the presidency statement said.

Disbanding the national team may seem drastic, but corruption in the team-selection process has long been a problem within the NFF. So blowing up a team of serial underachievers that may have been assembled under dubious pretenses in the first place is much more of a fresh start for Nigeria than sitting out competitions for two years.

In a way, everybody wins here. FIFA keeps government out of football, Jonathan gets his drastic change, and FIFA scares a nation's president into submission with an ultimatum. OK, so maybe FIFA still wins the most.

Photo: Getty Images

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