The Nigerian Football Federation has come out to dismiss the news of the ban placed by FIFA on the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, which was the host venue for the second leg of the Nigeria-Ghana world cup playoff.
Things did not go Nigeria’s way as the Black Stars of Ghana held the Super Eagles to a 1-1 aggregate draw, allowing them to go to the World Cup ahead of Nigeria on the back of the away goals rule. The NFF had made some very bold promises ahead of the tie and fans at the venue took out their disappointment on the newly constructed stadium.
FIFA and CAF were reported to be considering sanctions for the NFF after the incident which saw properties belonging to both bodies destroyed, as well as the threat of harm to the visiting Ghanaian fans and team. On Friday, news came out that FIFA had officially banned the MKO stadium indefinitely from hosting games.
The NFF’s General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, has come out on behalf of the Nigerian football governing body to dismiss the claims saying, “We are alarmed at the influx of incorrect reports, otherwise known as fake news, mostly in the social media.
“There is no truth to the reports that the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja has been banned for any length of time by FIFA.
“It is a concoction by some persons with fertile imagination. The NFF has not received any such communication from either FIFA or CAF. There has also been an outlandish report that the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) equipment that was installed for the match had been stolen.
“We initially thought this was an April Fool prank but it is alarming that some media outlets are taking it serious. Nothing of such happened. The VAR equipment remains intact and has been returned to the FIFA office in Zurich, Switzerland by Sebastian Runge, FIFA’s Head of Technology.”
Sanusi also took the opportunity to apologise again to Nigerians, whose grievances were shown clearly on the pitch after the game. “The NFF understands that Nigerians in their generality were sorely disappointed by the result of the match, which came short of having the Super Eagles at the World Cup,” the general secretary said.
“It is a painful situation for everyone, including ourselves at the Federation. However, we are appealing that the propensity for half-truths and outright falsehood be discouraged. We believe that the present squad of Super Eagles is still capable of achieving great things.”
Nigerians can take solace in the fact that their performances over the last year have helped their FIFA and CAF rankings improve, as despite the disappointments of the last month, the Super Eagles moved up from 32nd to 30th in the FIFA rankings and from fifth to third in CAF rankings.
The team will be in action once again in June, when the qualifiers for the 2023 African Cup of Nations which will be hosted by Ivory Coast will begin.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago