Pinnick v Giwa saga: Setbacks as NFF crisis impedes resumption of NPFL


Due to the crisis ravaging the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) have been forced to postpone its resumption indefinitely.

Days after the Super Eagles crashed out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the FIFA-banned Chris Giwa’s board unseated the Amaju Pinnick-led board at the helm of the Football house.

Over the course of the next few days, Nigeria could face the real prospect of a ban from FIFA.

If that happens, Nigerians must put faces to the names of the people directly responsible: Christopher Giwa and Sports Minister Solomon Dalung.

It has been just over two weeks since Giwa, with Dalung’s backing and support, seized control of the NFF headquarters on the strength of an ex parte court order, issued in the absence of NFF lawyers.

The move is in clear violation of FIFA Statutes, which outlaw civil suits in football disputes, providing legal recourse through the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Giwa, having lost his appeal at CAS against FIFA for refusing to recognise his election, took the case to the Nigerian civil courts. That case has dragged on for almost four years, and has now led to the current situation.

With a thrilling World Cup having come to a dramatic conclusion, as France defeated Croatia 4-2 in Moscow, FIFA must now return to other, more routine matters.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino declared last week that the world football governing body only recognises the NFF board as led by Amaju Pinnick and warned that if the present situation continues, the country risked a ban.

Last week, FIFA demanded a situation report from the NFF led by Pinnick to present to its emergency committee.

It is the Emergency Committee that will decide whether or not an infraction has been committed and apply appropriate sanction.

Sources within the NFF board told KweséESPN that they had stalled on their response to FIFA in order to avoid the inevitable sanction that would follow what now constitutes third-party interference.

A court hearing on July 10 to hear the main suit stalled with no decision reached and the case was adjourned till September 25.

This is a fresh episode of the tussle that began back in 2014 which almost cost Nigeria its membership among footballing nations under FIFA, and could also result to same this time around.

The NPFL, which has been on break for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia was earlier expected to resume this week with match day 25 actions across nine centres was postponed by the organisers.

But late on Monday, the Club Owners Association announced a postponement in the resumption date, which was later confirmed by the League Management Company (LMC).

Their statements explained that sponsors, partners and service providers are expressing concerns and reviewing their involvement as a result of the confusion in the administration of football in the country.

The Club Owners Association, through a statement by its executive secretary, Alloy Chukwuemeka, said: “I am directed to bring to the notice of all members and clubs that the resumption date of the 2017/2018 season earlier scheduled for Wednesday 18th July 2018 has been put on hold

“Consequently, the league resumption date has been postponed indefinitely until further notice.

“This postponement is as a result of some unresolved issues amongst the stakeholders within the football circle,” the statement read.

An LMC statement followed thus: “Kindly be informed that the League Management Company (LMC) has reached a decision to postpone the resumption of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) indefinitely.

“The decision is based on the current adverse circumstances in the administration of football in the country as a result of which sponsors, partners and service providers have expressed strong concerns and are reviewing their involvement in the league

“There is therefore the need to engage them further in this regard in order to mitigate against any possible adverse outcome. Furthermore, organising matches of the NPFL under the current circumstances might cause irreversible damage to the League brand”, the statement noted.

It is yet to be known what steps will be taken by the world football governing body in bringing this tussle to a final rest.

But as it stands, the Chris Giwa board are in charge of the football house in Abuja, while more setbacks are expected within the country’s football as the Super Eagles, Super Falcons, Falconets and other national teams may also be affected.

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