World football governing body FIFA yesterday fined the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) 6,000 Swiss Francs (approximately N2,175,660.00) for fielding an ineligible player in the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying match between Algeria and Nigeria on 10 November, 2017.
FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee also awarded three points and three goals from the November 10 last Group B World Cup 2018 qualifier in Constantine to Algeria. Incidentally, Nigeria only lost one point as the match ended 1-1. Nigeria’s remaining 13 points ensured Super Eagles have nothing to fret about as winners of the group while Algeria moved from two to four points.
Nigeria fielded Shehu Abdullahi for the game against Algeria but according to the world football ruling body FIFA, Abdullahi Shehu was ineligible to play Nigeria’s last World Cup game away to Algeria on November 10, 2017. FIFA claimed that the three-time African champions violated article 8 of the Regulations of the 2018 World Cup Russia and article 55 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code for featuring the Anorthosis Famagusta defender, who was ineligible for the encounter on 10 November 2017.
According to a statement on the official website of FIFA, Shehu Abdullahi failed to serve the automatic one-match suspension imposed on him as a result of receiving a caution in two separate matches of the same competition. As such, Nigeria will forfeit the point gained from the encounter with three points and three goals awarded in favour of Algeria.
The Nigeria Football Federation yesterday reacted to the sanction slammed on the country by the world football governing body, FIFA.
A visibly irked NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, directed that an internal inquiry be instituted immediately and persons found culpable be dealt with.
“We accept the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to fine the NFF and award the match to Algeria.
“However, this is a grave error and somebody must be punished. We apologize to Nigerians for this and assure that this will not in any way derail or even distract us in our well –laid plan to ensure that the Super Eagles have a great outing in Russia.
“At the same time, I want to assure that persons responsible for this slip would not be given just a slap on the wrist. We are actually looking at a re-organization of the Technical Department. The Technical Committee will henceforth play serious superintending role on all details, no matter how minute, in technical matters.
“It is important that all committees and departments at the NFF should move at the same pace as the Executive Committee,” stated Pinnick in an official statement from the federation.
It is interesting to note that this 6,000 Swiss Francs fine to NFF and the change of the previous 1-1 result to now 3-0 in favour of Algeria bears no impact on the final result of the preliminary competition for the FIFA World Cup since Nigeria had already qualified (and Algeria eliminated) before the match was played.
However, the deducted point now means that Super Eagles finished the Russia 2018 qualifying campaign with 13 points instead of 14 and can no longer be considered unbeaten.