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article imageSuspension of Nigerian football team draws criticism Special

By Samuel Okocha     Jun 30, 2010 in Sports
The suspension of Nigeria's national football team from international competition for two years by the Nigerian president has been criticized by a current affairs analyst in the country.
Presidential spokesman Ima Niboro told media the decision by Goodluck Jonathan will enable Nigeria to reorganize its football after the team was knocked out in the group stage of the World Cup in South Africa without winning a single game.
Niboro said: "President Goodluck Jonathan has directed that Nigeria withdraws from international competition for two years to enable the country to put its house in order."
But Yinka Salam, a current affairs analyst in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, says disbanding the team and banning it from participating in competitive events would worsen the problem.
''It's going to definitely affect the growth of soccer, it's going to affect those who stake their career in the system. It's like saying because lecturers are on strike, people are failing exams and you stop university enrollment for four years or two years to get it right."
The football enthusiast said rather than ban the team from competitions for two years, the government should have set up a committee of people who know the job to get it right. He said the problem with Nigeria's football was getting qualified people in the key positions.
"You don't have to say because this person his my friend, you appoint him as minister of sports. Look at what's happening in Brazil. Dunga is one of their best players (now national team coach), look at Argentina, see Maradona. Why can't we do that?"
Under FIFA rules, government interference with national teams is highly discouraged in order to help the growth of football.
Yinka supports FIFA stand on football administration, saying system free from government's interference and politicking would produce the best result.
"If you allow the system to run, it will give you the best. In America, look at what happened, when they allowed the system to throw up the best among them, Obama emerged. If they had allowed sentiments, nepotism, no black would have emerged where you have majority of white men in population."
"We know people who have proved their mettle...people will vote them in, and we will get the results."
On FIFA's possible sanction on Nigeria for government interference in football, Salam said:
"If that is the price we have to pay for taking the wrong decision, for allowing anger to becloud our sense of reasoning, for not allowing the process to take its normal course, then so be it."
More about Nigeria, World Cup, Suspension, Ima niboro, Goodluck jonathan
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