*NFF: We apologise for the slip but erring official will not go unpunished
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has been sanctioned for fielding an ineligible player in the match between Algeria and Nigeria on November 10, 2017. In addition, Nigeria is to pay a fine of 6,000 Swiss Francs (about N2.2million)
FIFAâ€™s Disciplinary Committee yesterday awarded three points and three goals from the November 10 last Group B World Cup 2018 qualifier in Constantine to Algeria. Incidentally, Nigeria only lost one point as the match ended 1-1. Nigeriaâ€™s remaining 13 points ensured Super Eagles have nothing to fret about as winners of the group while Algeria moved from two to four points.
The world football ruling body insisted that Abdullahi Shehu was ineligible to play Nigeriaâ€™s last World Cup game away to Algeria on November 10, 2017.
Shehu was first booked in Nigeriaâ€™s first round qualifier against Swaziland in 2015 before another card in the game against Zambia. The two caution (yellow) cards made it mandatory for the Nigerian defender to miss one game.
â€œThe sanction relates to the player Abdullahi Shehu failing to serve the automatic one-match suspension imposed on him as a result of receiving a caution in two separate matches of the same competition,â€ observed FIFA.
Traditionally, yellow cards issued in previous rounds of the qualifying race are cancelled going forward, but the principle did not apply for the latest series.
However, in a swift reaction to the sanction from FIFA, a miffed NFF President, Amaju Pinnick directed that an internal inquiry be instituted immediately and persons found culpable be dealt with.
â€œWe accept the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to fine the NFF and award the match to Algeria.
â€œHowever, this is a grave error and somebody must be punished. We apologise 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.
â€œAt 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-organisation of the Technical Department. The Technical Committee will henceforth play serious superintending role on all details, no matter how minute, in technical matters.
â€œIt is important that all committees and departments at the NFF should move at the same pace as the Executive Committee,â€ Pinnick concluded.
FIFA had hinted the NFF about the disciplinary proceedings, following the use of Abdullahi Shehu in the match against Zambia in Uyo on October 7.
Pleas from the federation that the technical officer (at the NFF) whom the FIFA email (suspending Shehu) was directed to was hospitalised at that period with a serious heart problem and so was not on emails and couldnâ€™t have seen it was rejected by the men in Zurich.
Two seasons ago, Real Madrid was thrown out of the Copa Del Rey and fined for fielding an ineligible player.
Russia winger Denis Cheryshev started in the fourth-round tie, despite being suspended after picking up a third yellow card in the semi-finals of the previous season’s competition when on loan at Villarreal, and scored Real’s first goal.
Cheryshev was withdrawn from the action moments after half-time when Real had realised their error, with then head coach Rafael Benitez saying they wanted to “show good faith”.
Spain’s football federation fined Real Madrid 6,000 euros (Â£4315) and awarded the game to Cadiz.