Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has punished Nigeria for using an ineligible player in their final World Cup qualifier against Algeria in November. The match in Constantine originally ended in a 1-1 draw but that has now been overturned and Algeria awarded a 3-0 win. However, the sanction does not affect Nigeria’s World Cup qualification as they had already clinched a place in Russia before the Algeria tie.
Abdullahi Shehu played the whole match against Algeria even though he should have been suspended for picking up yellow cards in two previous qualifiers. The defender was cautioned in the Super Eagles 1-0 win over Zambia in October that sealed Nigeria’s spot in Russia, having been shown a yellow card in the first leg of their second round tie against Swaziland in November 2015.
The Nigeria Football Federation has also been fined US$6,000 for the oversight. NFF President Pinnick has since apologised and taken responsibilty for the error and directed that an internal inquiry be instituted immediately and persons found culpable be dealt with. According to him:
“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. It was a lack of due diligence in and by one of our departments and we are ensuring that errors like these never happen again. On behalf of all of us at the @thenff; I apologise, Nigeria. Our focus remains. We will soar higher’.