Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Yobo asks Fifa to end Nigeria ban

Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, left, talks to his teammate Joseph Yobo
Joseph Yobo wants Nigeria's sports authorities to ensure that a Fifa ban on the country is reversed

By Oluwashina Okeleji
BBC Sport

Captain Joseph Yobo has made a passionate plea to Nigeria's sports authorities to ensure that a Fifa ban on the country is swiftly reversed.

Fifa slapped an indefinite ban on Nigeria on Monday because of the government's interference in the sport.

This leaves Saturday's Nations Cup qualifier with Guinea in doubt and Yobo wants a quick resolution to the issue.

"This is absolutely devastating for the fans, players and the entire country." Yobo told BBC Sport on Tuesday.

"The players are in shock just like the millions of passionate football fans here and we can only hope they resolve this crisis for the progress of the country.

"Importantly football is a powerful force in the country, it unites the country so we shouldn't let it separate us as a strong nation."

The Super Eagles are trying to revive the team's flagging fortunes after their unimpressive showing at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa where they failed to make a first-round exit.

But the infighting and government interference in the administration of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has overshadowed plans to revitalize football in the country.

The Fenerbahce defender insists that the players' quest to revive Nigerian football would be hampered if there is no quick effort to end the NFF's problems.

Nigera squad warms up before a training session
Nigeria players are unsure whether their game with Guinea will go ahead

"Everyone is working hard to put the World Cup disappointments behind us and we are progressing in the 2012 qualifiers and this [Fifa suspension] is the last thing we need right now." Yobo said.

"We can never progress when confusion and feud takes over football so therefore we must all come together to prevent a disaster.

"The other national sides (the U20 and female national team) will also feel the effect terribly because they are also preparing for international competitions.

"Collectively, we can all sort it out. But I appeal to all parties involved to think of the nation first and accept that football is our only pride."

The world governing body said the ban follows a bid by Nigeria's Minister of Sports to restart the league without relegations from the previous season.

The decision by the Nigeria Sports Commission to force the NFF's secretary-general Musa Amadu to stand down from his position did not go down well with Fifa.

A court action barring the newly-elected members of the NFF also drew the ire of the world governing body.

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