Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigeria president, has suspended the national football team from international competition for two years after their poor showing at the World Cup. Ima Niboro, his spokesman, made the announcement yesterday, saying the ban would enable the country to reorganise its football administration. Niboro said that all funding of the World Cup squad, including the hiring of Lars Lagerback,their Swedish coach, would be investigated.
Nigeria exited the World Cup with just one point after being held to a 2-2 draw by South Korea in their last game. Nigeria lost to Argentina 1-0 in their Group B opener and fell to Greece 2-1 in a game turned by the first-half sending off of Sani Kaita, the midfielder. The Super Eagles have not won a World Cup match since 1998, going out with two losses and a draw in 2002 and failing to qualify for Germany 2006.
The Nigerian Football Federation's executive committee had earlier tendered an apology to the government and "all football loving Nigerians" for the early exit. Nigeria risks being banned by Fifa from all international football because of the political interference. "At the time of writing, we have no official information on this matter," Fifa said in a statement. "However, in general, Fifa's position regarding political interference in football is well known."
Nigeria's next scheduled international match is a qualifier for the 2012 African Cup of Nations, at home to Madagascar in early September. Fifa statutes demand that national federations manage their affairs independently, or face suspension from world football. National and club teams, plus referees, would be barred from participating in international matches and football officials are prevented from attending meetings.
Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, had already expressed concern over the French government's investigation into France's first-round exit from the World Cup, prior to the news of Nigeria's stance on their performance. * AP